NCCAM Study Reveals 38% of Americans Have Tried CAM

December 11, 2008

About 38% of American adults 18 years and over and about 12% of U.S. children 17 years and under use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), according to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey.

About 38% of American adults 18 years and over and about 12% of U.S. children 17 years and under use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), according to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. The study was developed by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM; Bethesda, MD), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH; Washington DC.) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS; Hyattsville, MD), a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; Atlanta, GA).

"The 2007 NHIS provides the most current, comprehensive, and reliable source of information on Americans' use of CAM," said Josephine P. Briggs, MD, director of NCCAM.

"These statistics confirm that CAM practices are a frequently used component of Americans' health care regimens, and reinforce the need for rigorous research to study the safety and effectiveness of these therapies. The data also point out the need for patients and health care providers to openly discuss CAM use to ensure safe and coordinated care."

The results are based on data from more than 23,300 interviews with American adults.

Comparison of the data from the 2002 and 2007 surveys suggests that overall use of CAM among adults has remained relatively steady-36 percent in 2002 and 38% in 2007.

The most commonly used CAM therapies among U.S. adults were:

* Nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products (17.7 %) Most common: fish oil/omega 3/DHA, glucosamine, echinacea, flaxseed oil or pills, and ginseng
* Deep breathing exercises (12.7 %)
* Meditation (9.4 %)
* Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation (8.6 %)
* Massage (8.3 %)
* Yoga (6.1 %)

The most commonly used CAM therapies among children were:

* Nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products (3.9 %)
Most common: echinacea, fish oil/omega 3/DHA, combination herb pill, flaxseed oil or pills, and prebiotics or probiotics
* Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation (2.8 %)
* Deep breathing exercises (2.2 %)
* Yoga (2.1 %)

"Future analyses of these data may help explain some of the observed variation in the use of individual CAM therapies and provide greater insights into CAM use patterns among Americans," said Richard L. Nahin PhD.