Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Among Women in New York City: A Pilot Study

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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FROM:   J Altern Complement Med 2001 (Dec); 7 (6): 659-666

Factor-Litvak P, Cushman LF, Kronenberg F, Wade C, Kalmuss D

The Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Center for
Complementary & Alternative Medicine,
College of Physicians & Surgeons,
Columbia University,
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine,
New York, NY 10032, USA

OBJECTIVE:   This study documents the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), among White, African American, and Hispanic/Latina women living in New York City. A pilot to a national survey of CAM use among American women, this study explores women's use of categories of CAM and various CAM practitioners, racial and ethnic differences in CAM use, and women's perceptions regarding the effectiveness of CAM.

DESIGN AND LOCATION:   Data were collected from women residing in New York City using random digit dialing/computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). The sample of 300 had equal numbers of women (n = 100) who self-identified as White, Hispanic/Latina, and African American, equally stratified by age (below and above age 40).

SUBJECTS:   Eligibility requirements included self-identification as Anglo/white, African American, or Hispanic/Latina and between ages 18 and 80.

MEASURES:   Three distinct categories of CAM were explored: (1) medicinal teas, homeopathic remedies, herbs, vitamins; (2) yoga, meditation, spiritual practices; and (3) manual therapies including chiropractic, massage, acupressure. Health concerns of interest were those frequently described in prior focus groups, and included reproductive health issues (e.g., pregnancy, menstruation, menopause) as well as other common women's health problems (e.g., heart disease, high blood pressure, headaches).

RESULTS:   More than half the sample has used a CAM treatment or remedy, and 40% have visited a CAM practitioner. Among users, half have used only one of the CAM categories, approximately one third have used two, and 16% used all three. The category of CAM used most often was medicinal tea/herbs/vitamins; the practitioners visited most frequently were chiropractors (18%) and nutritionists (17%). Racial and ethnic differences in CAM use were minimal, and approximately one third of all treatments used were rated "very effective" by users.

CONCLUSIONS:   Substantial utilization of CAM remedies and treatments for a variety of women's health concerns is observed. Further inquiry with larger samples of women is recommended.


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