Complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies, such as massage, chiropractic, herbs, meditation and acupuncture, are frequently studied by researchers due to their positive effects and low cost when compared with Western medical treatments. Investigators at Logan College of Chiropractic set out to study the potential role of CAM health care providers in chronic disease prevention and health promotion, through an analysis of National Health Interview Survey data.

This was a secondary analysis of the 2007 United States National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the most recent to include CAM use, according to an abstract published on The Adult Core Sample, Person and Adult Complementary and Alternative Medicine data files were included. NHIS’s complete survey design structure (strata, cluster and survey weights) was applied in generating national population estimates for CAM usage.

Among the results:

• Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation (8.4 percent) and massage (8.1 percent) were most commonly used;

• Acupuncture was used by 1.4 percent and naturopathy by 0.3 percent of respondents.

• Substantial proportions of respondents reported using CAM for wellness and disease prevention, and informed their medical physician of use.

• Fifty-four percent were overweight or obese, 22.0% physically inactive, and 17.4 percent smokers; 18.0 percent reported hypertension, 19.6 percent high cholesterol, and 9.1 percent prediabetes or diabetes.

“CAM users present with risk factors which are priority public health issues, [and] this implies a need to train CAM providers in evidence-based health promotion counseling,” the researchers noted in the abstract. “CAM encounters may provide opportunities to coordinate health promotion and prevention messages with patients’ primary care providers.”

The research ran in the journal Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier.

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