Americans spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including massage therapy, over the previous 12 months, according to survey results released today, July 30, by the National Institutes of Health.

The 2007 National Health Interview Survey found that about 38 percent of adults use some form of CAM for health and wellness or to treat diseases and conditions, and spent $33.9 billion out of pocket on visits to CAM practitioners and purchases of CAM products, classes and materials.

“Nearly two-thirds of the total out-of-pocket costs that adults spent on CAM were for self-care purchases of CAM products, classes, and materials during the past 12 months ($22.0 billion), compared with about one-third spent on practitioner visits ($11.9 billion).,” the report noted.

The survey found that people who use massage make an average of 2.16 visits to their massage therapist per year, paying an average of $136.73 out of pocket, total, for massage.

The survey also broke down the percentages of people of certain ages who received massage: 27.4 percent of people ages 0-24 receive massage, as do 18.5 percent of people ages 25 to 49; 31.8 percent of people ages 50 to 74; and 11 percent of people ages 75 to 99.

CAM therapies were defined for the purposes of this report as those “not usually taught in U.S. medical schools or generally available in U.S. hospitals,” the report noted. CAM therapies include a broad range of practices and beliefs such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, relaxation techniques, massage therapy, and herbal remedies. They are defined by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.”