Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Mental Disorders Among African Americans, Black Caribbeans, and Whites

School of Social Work, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.
Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) (Impact Factor: 2.41). 10/2009; 60(10):1342-9. DOI: 10.1176/
Source: PubMed


This study examined racial and ethnic differences in the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for the treatment of mental and substance use disorders.
Data were from the National Survey of American Life (NSAL) and the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication (NCS-R). The analytic sample included 631 African Americans and 245 black Caribbeans from the NSAL and 1,393 non-Hispanic whites from the NCS-R who met criteria for a mood, anxiety, or substance use disorder in the past 12 months. Logistic regression was used to examine racial and ethnic differences in the use of any CAM and in the use of CAM only versus the use of CAM plus services in another treatment sector.
Thirty-four percent of respondents used some form of CAM. Whites were more likely than blacks to use any CAM, although there was no racial or ethnic difference in CAM use only versus CAM use plus traditional services. A higher proportion of blacks than whites used prayer and other spiritual practices. Among those with a mood disorder, black Caribbeans were less likely than African Americans to use any CAM.
Findings of this study were similar to those of previous studies that examined physical illness in relation to CAM use in terms of its overall prevalence, the predominant use of CAM in conjunction with traditional service providers, and racial and ethnic differences in the use of CAM. The use of prayer was a major factor in differences between blacks and whites in CAM use; however, there were also differences among black Americans that warrant further research.

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Available from: Amanda Toler Woodward, Aug 18, 2014
    • "In lieu of or in concert with clergy, highly religious African- Americans may prefer to address their mental health problems using strategies that do not involve accessing any type of professional mental health provider. These individuals might rely on both cognitive and behavioral forms of religious coping, such prayer or meditation (Woodward et al., 2009). Future research should investigate whether highly religious African-Americans attribute mental health problems to religious struggles, medical disorders, or other causes. "
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