Boomers More Likely to Try Alternative Medicine

Treatments range from acupuncture to yoga, study finds

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FRIDAY, Nov. 4, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-age adults are more likely than older or younger people to use complementary and alternative medicine, says a Wake Forest University School of Medicine study.

Researchers analyzed data collected from 31,044 people in the United States who took part in the 2002 National Health Interview Survey.

"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," the study authors noted.

"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," they wrote.

In their study, the researchers looked at four CAM 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 massage.
  • Mind-body interventions such as meditation, yoga and healing rituals.

The study found that some types of complementary and alternative medicine, such as alternative medicine systems, are used primarily for treating existing conditions. Others, such as mind-body interventions, are used primarily for health promotion and preventing illness. Biologically based therapies are used almost equally for prevention and for treatment.

The findings were published in the October issue of the Journal of Aging and Health.

More information

The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has more about CAM.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, Oct. 25, 2005

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