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Middle-age people more likely to use alternative medicine

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Middle-age people are more likely than younger or older adults to use complementary and alternative medicine, according to researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

"Midlife adults entered adulthood at a time of more widespread use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the population and when public health policy was shifting attention toward individual responsibility for health and health promotion," said Joseph G. Grzywacz, Ph.D., and his colleagues, writing in the October issue of the Journal of Aging and Health.

"Current use of CAM among adults was likely shaped by the relative availability of CAM and prevailing public health policies in place when adults began making their own health-related decisions."

But the researchers added that the middle-age adults are more likely than either young adults or older adults to use CAM for prevention rather than for treatment of specific conditions.

"This study provides the first estimates of notable age-related differences in whether CAM is used to treat an existing health condition or for illness prevention and health promotion," he said.

Grzywacz, assistant professor of family and community medicine, said the researchers got their results from data for 31,044 people who participated in the 2002 National Health Interview Survey. The survey is a national sample of Americans that has been conducted annually since 1957 by the National Center of Health Statistics, an arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The survey included questions on 20 types of complementary and alternative medicine, which Grzywacz and his colleagues grouped into four categories:

  • Alternative medical systems, such as acupuncture, homeopathy and naturopathy.
  • Biologically based therapies, such as chelation therapy, folk medicine, herb use, special diets, or megavitamins.
  • Manipulative and body-based methods, such as chiropractic or
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Contact: Robert Conn
rconn@wfubmc.edu
336-716-4587
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
25-Oct-2005


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