In the U.S., use of complementary therapies, such as massage, energy work, herbs and meditation, are widespread across genders and ethnicities.

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin set out to study the characteristics of African-Americans who use CAM therapies to treat specific conditions.

The researchers noted that although the use of CAM therapies “is substantial among African-Americans,” research on characteristics of African-Americans who use CAM to address specific conditions is scarce. And that the purpose of this study was to “determine what predisposing, enabling, need, and disease-state factors are related to CAM use for treatment among a nationally representative sample of African-Americans,” according to an abstract published on

They found:

• Approximately 1 in 5 (20.2 percent) who used CAM in the past 12 months used CAM to treat a specific condition.

• Ten of the 15 CAM modalities were used primarily for treatment by African-Americans.

• CAM for treatment was significantly associated with the following factors: graduate education, smaller family size, higher income, region (northeast, midwest, west more likely than south), depression/anxiety, more physician visits, less likely to engage in preventive care, more frequent exercise behavior, more activities of daily living limitations, and neck pain.

“Alternative medical systems, manipulative and body-based therapies, and folk medicine, prayer, biofeedback and energy/Reiki were used most often,” the abstract noted. “Health care professionals should routinely ask patients about the use of CAM, but when encountering African-Americans, there may be a number of factors that may serve as cues for further inquiry.”

“Use of complementary and alternative medicine for treatment among African-Americans: a multivariate analysis” is published in Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy. 2010 Sep;6(3):196-208.

Related articles:

Chronic Pain’s Effect on Depression and Distress in African-American and Caucasian Men

CAM Use by Race and Ethnicity