Trends in use of complementary and alternative medicine by us adults: 1997-2002

Hilary A. Tindle, Roger B. Davis, Russell S. Phillips, David M. Eisenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

763 Scopus citations


Context • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by US adults increased substantially between 1990 and 1997, yet little is known about more recent trends. Objective • Compare CAM therapy use by US adults in 2002 and 1997. Design • Comparison of two national surveys of CAM use by US adults: (1) the Alternative Health/Complementary and Alternative Medicine supplement to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS, N=31,044) and (2) a 1997 national survey (N = 2055), each containing questions about 15 common CAM therapies. Main Outcome Measures • Prevalence, sociodemographic correlates, and insurance coverage of CAM use. Results • The most commonly used CAM modalities in 2002 were herbal therapy (18.6%, representing over 38 million US adults) followed by relaxation techniques (14.2%, representing 29 million US adults) and chiropractic (7.4%, representing 15 million US adults). Among CAM users, 41% used two or more CAM therapies during the prior year. Factors associated with highest rates of CAM use were ages 40-64, female gender, non-black/non-Hispanic race, and annual income of $65,000 or higher. Overall CAM use for the 15 therapies common to both surveys was similar between 1997 and 2002 (36.5%, vs. 35.0%, respectively, each representing about 72 million US adults). The greatest relative increase in CAM use between 1997 and 2002 was seen for herbal medicine (12.1% vs. 18.6%, respectively), and yoga (3.7% vs. 5.1%, respectively), while the largest relative decrease occurred for chiropractic (9.9 % to 7.4%, respectively). Conclusions • The prevalence of CAM use has remained stable from 1997 to 2002. Over one in three respondents used CAM in the past year, representing about 72 million US adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-49
Number of pages8
JournalAlternative therapies in health and medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005


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