Active-duty military personnel use massage and other complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies more often than civilians do, according to a new survey, and massage is their top choice of CAM therapies.

“Studies continue to find that conventional medicine alone is not considered sufficient by many to address both the visible and invisible wounds in our warfighters,” said Samueli Institute President and CEO, LTC (Ret) Wayne B. Jonas, M.D. “Increasingly, research shows that integrative medicine—a coordinated combination of conventional and alternative approaches—is working to enhance healing for these service members. The general public and the military have already moved in that direction and it is time the medical profession begins to catch up.”

The survey, results from which were published in the January issue of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, asked more than 16,000 military personnel about their use over the past year of 13 different CAM modalities including massage therapy, acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, diet therapy, energy healing, folk remedies, guided imagery, herbal medicine, high-dose megavitamins, homeopathy, hypnosis, relaxation techniques and spiritual healing by others.

Among the results:

• Approximately 45 percent of respondents reported using at least one type of CAM therapy in the previous year

• Surveys of civilians show CAM use of 36 to 38 percent

• Massage therapy was used more than any other CAM therapy (14.1 percent)

• Relaxation techniques were the second-most-used CAM therapy (10.8 percent)

The study found participants who were older and more educated were more likely to use CAM. Researchers said this may reflect a more mature desire to resolve persistent health problems, and the income level to do so.

“Military Report More Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use than Civilians,” was written by researchers at Samueli Institute in Alexandria, Virginia, a nonprofit research organization supporting the scientific investigation of healing processes and their role in medicine and health care, and colleagues.

Read a press release about the study here.