Beyond the barriers: Racial discrimination and use of complementary and alternative medicine among Black Americans

Tetyana Pylypiv Shippee, Markus H. Schafer, Kenneth F. Ferraro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This article examines whether self-reported racial discrimination is associated with greater use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and assesses whether the effects of reported racial discrimination are specific to the setting in which the unfair treatment occurred (i.e., medical or nonmedical settings). Data were drawn from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) of Black adults aged 25 and older at baseline (. N=. 201). Analyses account for multiple forms of discrimination: major lifetime discriminatory events and everyday discrimination (more commonplace negative occurrences). Using logistic and negative binomial regression, results reveal that racial discrimination was associated with a higher likelihood of using any type of CAM as well as using more modalities of CAM. Also, both discrimination in health care and discrimination in nonmedical contexts predicted greater use of CAM. The findings underscore the tenet that health care choices, while influenced by health status and availability of health care resources, are also shaped by perceived barriers. The experience of racial discrimination among Black people is associated with greater use of alternative means of health care, as a way to cope with the barriers they experience in institutional settings in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1155-1162
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for this research was provided by a grant ( AG 11705 ) from National Institute on Aging and National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities to the third author. Data were made available by the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, Ann Arbor, MI. Neither the collector of the original data nor the Consortium bears any responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here. This publication was also supported by funding from the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health to the University of Minnesota Clinical and Translational Science Institute (Grant number 1UL1RR033183 ) to the first author. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CTSI or the NIH. The University of Minnesota CTSI is part of a national Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) consortium created to accelerate laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients.


  • Access to care
  • Black Americans
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Racial discrimination
  • USA


Dive into the research topics of 'Beyond the barriers: Racial discrimination and use of complementary and alternative medicine among Black Americans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this