Prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine use among U.S. College students: A systematic review

Amy L.Versnik Nowak, Heidi M. Hale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Research shows that Americans are using increasing amounts of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and that education is a significant predictor of CAM use. The purpose of this systematic review is to summarize key research findings on CAM use rates among U.S. college students and recommend future actions for researchers and health educators. A systematic search sought out peer-reviewed studies that provide empirical data on rates of CAM use among the general college population in the U.S. Findings in 10 studies were reported and compared to 2007 NHIS data. Use of acupuncture, homeopathy, NVNM, massage therapy, healing therapy/Reiki and yoga is significantly higher among U.S. college samples than the general U.S. adult sample with NVNM and massage therapy showing small effect sizes (d>.20, r>.10). Future research must address the limitations of previous studies. Health education efforts are needed to prepare college students for making informed decisions regarding CAM use. Health educators can incorporate CAM topics into curricula, distribute CAM literature, organize campus-wide presentations, and include CAM providers in health fairs. Health educators should be prepared to discuss CAM safety and efficacy with students and provide referrals to reputable CAM providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-126
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012


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