Complementary and alternative medicine in US adults with diabetes: Reasons for use and perceived benefits

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Background: Although complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasingly used, little is known about the reasons for CAM use (treatment, wellness, or both), or the self-reported perceived benefits among US adults with diabetes. In this study we estimated prevalence rates of overall and specific types of CAM, as well as the perceived benefits of CAM, by reason for use among US diabetic adults. Methods: Cross-sectional data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, which represents non-institutionalized adults with diabetes (n = 3386 unweighted), were used to estimate prevalence rates of CAM use by reason. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to investigate the odds of perceived benefits of CAM by reason for use after controlling for covariates. Results: Of US diabetic adults, 26.2% reported using some form of CAM in the past year. Of these, 56.7% used CAM for both treatment and wellness, 28.3% used CAM for wellness only, and 15.0% used CAM for treatment only. Regardless of reasons for use, most commonly used CAM were herbal therapies (56.9%), followed by chiropractic (25.3%) and massage (20.2%). Those using CAM for a combination of both treatment and wellness had a higher likelihood of self-reporting a “better sense of control over their health” (P = 0.011) and “improved overall health and feeling better” (P = 0.014) than those using CAM for treatment only. Conclusion: Although CAM may be a promising approach to improving health-related quality of life, future research should address efficacy and patient safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-319
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Diabetes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd


  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
  • Diabetes
  • Health promotion
  • Well-being
  • Wellness


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