Alternative health care: Its use bv individualswith physical disabilities

H. H. Krauss, C. Godfrey, J. Kirk, D. M. Eisenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This research investigated the use of alternative therapies by individuals with physical disabilities. Design: A telephone survey of a cross-sectional convenience sample of people with disabilities. Setting: An urban outpatient rehabilitation facility specializing in vocational services. Participants: A convenience sample of 401 working-age individuals. Main Outcome Measure(s): Self-reported use of alternative therapy. Results: More of this sample of individuals with physical disabilities than a randomized, national sample of the general population used alternative therapies (57.1 percent versus 34 percent) and saw providers of those therapies (22 percent versus 10 percent). Among individuals in the current sample, significant positive relationships between use of alternative therapies and education and income levels were discovered. The use of alternative therapies by this sample, however, was not associated with racial identity, gender, or age. Compared with the general population, this study's respondents reported a higher proportion of chronic pain (14 percent versus 8 percent) and depression (14 percent versus 8 percent), and a lower proportion of severe headache (9.2 percent versus 13 percent). Alternative therapies were chosen more often than conventional therapies by those with physical disabilities for pain (51.8 percent versus 33.9 percent), depression (33.9 percent versus 25 percent), anxiety (42.1 percent versus 13.1 percent), insomnia (32.3 percent versus 16.1 percent), and headaches (51.4 percent versus 18.9 percent). Conclusion: Physically disabled individuals are more likely to use alternative therapies than the general population and to see providers for them, have their use recommended by their physicians, and be reimbursed by their health insurance for them. A high prevalence of dysphoria is found among those with disabilities, for which a combination of alternative and conventional therapies is often used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalHeadache Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 1999


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