Use of Mind-Body Medical Therapies: Results of a National Survey

Peter M. Wolsko, David M. Eisenberg, Roger B. Davis, Russell S. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations

Abstract

OBJECT: Research demonstrating connections between the mind and body has increased interest in the potential of mind-body therapies. Our aim was to examine the use of mind-body therapies, using data available from a national survey. DESIGN: Analysis of a large nationally representative dataset that comprehensively evaluated the use of mind-body therapies in the last year. SETTING: United States households. PATIENTS/PARTICIPANTS: A total of 2,055 American adults in 1997-1998. INTERVENTIONS: Random national telephone survey. MEASURES AND MAIN RESULTS: We obtained a 60% weighted overall response rate among eligible respondents. We found that 18.9% of adults had used at least 1 mind-body therapy in the last year, with 20.5% of these therapies involving visits to a mind-body professional. Meditation, imagery, and yoga were the most commonly used techniques. Factors independently and positively associated with the use of mind-body therapies in the last year were being 40 to 49 years old (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 2.03; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.33 to 3.10), being not married (AOR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.34 to 2.36), having on educational level of college or greater (AOR, 2.21; 95% CI, 1.57 to 3.09), having used self-prayer for a medical concern (AOR, 2.53; 95% CI, 1.87 to 3.42), and having used another complementary medicine therapy in the last year (AOR, 3.77; 95% CI, 2.74 to 5.20). While used for the full array of medical conditions, they were used infrequently for chronic pain (used by 20% of those with chronic pain) and insomnia (used by 13% of those with insomnia), conditions for which consensus panels have concluded that mind-body therapies are effective. They were also used by less than 20% of those with heart disease, headaches, back or neck pain, and cancer, conditions for which there is strong research support. Mind-body therapies were generally used concomitantly with conventional care: 90% of those using a mind-body therapy in the last year had seen a physician and 80% of mind-body therapies used were discussed with a physician. CONCLUSIONS: Although mind-body therapies were commonly used, much opportunity exists to increase use of mind-body therapies for indications with demonstrated efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by National Institutes of Health grant U24. AR43441, Bethesda, Md, The John E. Fetzer Institute, Kalamazoo, Mich, The American Society of Actuaries, Schaumburg, Ill, and the Bernard Osher Foundation. Dr. Wolsko was supported by an Institutional National Research Service Award for Training in Alternative Medicine Research (T32 AT00051), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. Dr. Phillips is supported by a Mid-Career Investigator Award (K24 AT00589) from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

Keywords

  • Evidence-based medicine
  • Mind-body
  • Self-care
  • Utilization

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