Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is substantial among African-Americans; however, research on characteristics of African-Americans who use of CAM to treat specific conditions is scarce.
To determine what predisposing, enabling, need, and disease state factors are related to CAM use for treatment among a nationally representative sample of African-Americans.
A cross-sectional study design was employed using the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). A nationwide representative sample of adult (≥ 18 years) African-Americans who used CAM in the past 12 months (n= 16,113,651 weighted; n=2,952 unweighted) were included. The Andersen Healthcare Utilization Model served the framework with CAM use for treatment as the main outcome measure. Independent variables included: predisposing (e.g., age, gender, education), enabling (e.g., income, employment, access to care); need (e.g., health status, physician visits, prescription medication use); and disease state (i.e., most prevalent conditions among African-Americans) factors. Multivariate logistic regression was used to address the study objective.
Approximately one in five (20.2%) CAM past 12 month users used CAM to treat a specific condition. Ten of the 15 CAM modalities were used primarily for treatment by African-Americans. CAM for treatment was significantly (p<0.05) associated with the following factors: graduate education, smaller family size, higher income, region (northeast, midwest, west more likely than south), depression/anxiety, more physician visits, less likely to engage in preventive care, more frequent exercise behavior, more activities of daily living (ADL) limitations, and neck pain.
Twenty percent of African-Americans who used CAM in the past year were treating a specific condition. Alternative medical systems, manipulative and body-based therapies, as well as folk medicine, prayer, biofeedback, and energy/Reiki were used most often. Health care professionals should routinely ask patients about CAM use, but when encountering African-Americans, there may be a number of factors that may serve as cues for further inquiry.