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06-09-2011 | Orthopaedics | Article

Alternative therapy could complement mainstream medicine in health promotion

Abstract

Free abstract

MedWire News: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) users frequently present with risk factors that are priority public health issues, conclude US researchers who argue that providers should be trained in evidence-based health-promotion counseling.

Individuals in the USA are estimated to receive only approximately half the preventive services that are currently recommended, and it has been calculated that it would take 7 hours per day for primary care clinicians to provide all recommended services.

Noting that CAM practitioners may represent an untapped resources in delivering health promotion services, Cheryl Hawk, from Logan College of Chiropractic in Chesterfield, Missouri, and colleagues conducted a secondary analysis of data from the 2007 US National Health Interview Survey.

The team reviewed the Adult Core Sample, Person and Adult Complementary and Alternative Medicine data files, and the survey's design structure was used to generate national population estimates for CAM usage.

The results, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, show that chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation was used by 8.4% of adults in the previous 12 months, while massage was used by 8.1%. Acupuncture was the next most common practice, used by 1.4% of respondents, followed by energy healing therapy, which was used by at 0.5%. Homeopathy, naturopathy, hypnosis, and Ayurveda (a system of traditional Indian medicine) were all used by less than 0.5% of adults.

CAM was used for wellness or disease prevention by 42.3-78.6% of patients, depending on the treatment, while between 11.5% and 57.9% used it to improve immune function. A medical physician was informed about CAM use in between 27.8% and 60.5% of cases.

Examining risk factors with which the respondents presented, the team found that, overall, 32.8% were overweight, 21.4% were obese, 22.0% reported no leisure time physical activity, and 17.4% were current smokers. Furthermore, 19.6%, 18.1%, 9.1%, and 6.8% reported high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes/prediabetes, and heavy alcohol consumption, respectively.

Discussing the findings, the researchers say there is "a need for the inclusion of evidence-based training in health promotion counseling in CAM education."

They continue: "It is possible that utilizing CAM encounters to amplify health promotion and prevention messages could contribute to more effective health behavior change, particularly when coordinated with patients' primary care providers."

By Liam Davenport

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