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About 70 percent of older adults use alternative medicine

COLUMBUS, Ohio Nearly three out of every four adults over age 50 use some kind of alternative medicine, such as acupuncture and herbal medicine, according to a new study.

While previous research has been limited, this appears to be a higher rate than occurs within the general population, said Gong-Soog Hong, co-author of the study and professor of consumer sciences at Ohio State University.

This study found that 71 percent of older adults used some form of alternative medicine in 2000. A study done in 2002, found a lower rate -- about 62 percent among all adults.

"The percentage of older adults who used alternative medicine was higher than I expected," Hong said.

"Many types of alternative medicine have not been tested for safety and effectiveness, and yet a large majority of older adults are using them. This tells us there is a serious need for more consumer education."

Hong conducted the study with Catherine Montalto, associate professor, and Vibha Bhargava, a graduate student, both in consumer sciences at Ohio State. They presented their research April 9 in Columbus at the annual meeting of the American Council on Consumer Interests.

The researchers used data from the 2000 Health and Retirement Survey, conducted by the University of Michigan and funded mainly by the National Institute on Aging. The survey included 848 respondents aged 50 and over.

The survey asked about the use of six types of alternative medicine: chiropractor, acupuncture, massage therapy, breathing exercises, herbal medicine, and meditation.

The most commonly used form of alternative medicine was chiropractor, which about 43 percent of respondents had used. Acupuncture was the least used.

Some of the results will need more research to explain, Hong said.

For example, the findings showed Blacks, widows, and more religious people all tended to use alternative medicine more often than did other older adults.


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Contact: Gong-Soog Hong
Hong.177@osu.edu
614-247-7243
Ohio State University
9-Apr-2005


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