Patterns of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use in African Americans

Pharmacy Administration Division, College of Pharmacy, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.59). 09/2007; 13(7):751-8. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2006.6392
Source: PubMed


This study sought to determine (1) characteristics of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) users in the African-American (AA) population; (2) the prevalence of CAM use; and (3) CAM use for treatment and prevention of disease.
The authors analyzed data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which included 4256 AA adults representing 23,828,268 AA adults nationwide. Chi-squared tests based on weighted data were used to examine differences in CAM users and nonusers.
CAM use was categorized as CAM Ever, CAM Past 12 Months, and CAM for Treatment.
A total of 23,828,268 (weighted) AAs were identified in the NHIS dataset. Of those, 67.6% used CAM in the past 12 months, when prayer for health was included. Users were more likely older (43.3 +/- 0.4 versus 39.5 +/- 0.5 years; p < 0.0001); female (60.9% versus 44.0%; p < 0.0001), college educated (17.4% versus 9.8%; p < 0.0001); and insured (91.0% versus 88.1%; p < 0.0001) compared to nonusers. Prayer was the most common CAM used by more than 60% of respondents, followed by herbals (14.2%) and relaxation (13.6%). A majority utilized CAM to treat illness. The use of CAM was significantly (p < 0.0001) higher across all the disease states common in AAs compared to nonuse.
A substantial number of AAs use CAM, with use varying across sociodemographic characteristics. Prayer was the most commonly used therapy. Overall, CAM was most often used for the treatment of specific conditions as opposed to prevention, and its use was common among AAs with prevalent disease states. The extent to which CAM served as a complement or an alternative to conventional medical treatment among AAs is unknown and should be investigated.

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    • "To our knowledge, this is the largest study of CAM usage, as defined by herbals and multivitamins use, among African American breast cancer survivors. Several national cross-sectional and case-control studies have reported on the use of complementary and alternative medicine in breast cancer survivors [2,16,19,25], but few have reported on herbals and multivitamins [13,14,22,26], and in African American breast cancer survivors in particular [13,27,28]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use, including herbals and multivitamin supplements, is quite common in the U.S., and has been shown to be highest in breast cancer survivors. However, limited data are currently available for CAM usage among African Americans. Thus, we sought to determine the prevalence of multivitamins, folic acid and herbal supplement usage in African American breast cancer survivors, and to compare the characteristics of users and nonusers. A cohort study of breast cancer survivors, who completed the 1999 Black Women's Health Study questionnaire and self-reported having been diagnosed with breast cancer between 1995 and 1999, comprised the study population. In this study, the intake of natural herbs, multivitamins and folic acid at least three days per week within the past two years was used as a proxy for typical usage of this complimentary alternative medicine (CAM) modality. A total of 998 breast cancer survivors were identified. Overall, 68.2% had used either herbals or multivitamin supplements or both. The three most frequently used herbals were garlic (21.2%), gingko (12.0%), and echinacea (9.4%). The multivariate analysis determined that single marital status (OR=1.58; 95%CI: 1.04-2.41), and alcohol consumption of 1-3 drinks per week (OR=1.86, 95%CI: 1.28-2.68) were significantly associated with increased herbal use. Multivitamin use was significantly lower among obese women (OR=0.66, 95%CI: 0.46-0.94) and current smokers (OR=0.53, 95%CI: 0.34-0.82). A significant number of African American breast cancer survivors are using herbals and multivitamins as CAM modality. Additional research is needed to understand the impact of herbals and multivitamins in African American breast cancer survivors.
    BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 04/2011; 11(1):30. DOI:10.1186/1472-6882-11-30 · 2.02 Impact Factor
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    • "For example, studies based on the NHIS data confirm the general finding of less overall CAM use by minorities when prayer is excluded (Graham et al., 2005). When prayer is included, a full two-thirds of African American respondents to the 2002 NHIS say they use CAM (Brown et al., 2007). This finding is highly consistent across surveys. "
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