The Gerontologist
 QUICK SEARCH:   [advanced]


This Article
Right arrow Full Text
Right arrow Full Text (PDF)
Right arrow Alert me when this article is cited
Right arrow Alert me if a correction is posted
Right arrow Similar articles in this journal
Right arrow Similar articles in PubMed
Right arrow Alert me to new issues of the journal
Right arrow Download to citation manager
Citing Articles
Right arrow Citing Articles via HighWire
Right arrow Citing Articles via Google Scholar
Google Scholar
Right arrow Articles by Ness, J.
Right arrow Articles by Wallace, R. B.
Right arrow Search for Related Content
Right arrow PubMed Citation
Right arrow Articles by Ness, J.
Right arrow Articles by Wallace, R. B.
The Gerontologist 45:516-524 (2005)
© 2005 The Gerontological Society of America

Use of Complementary Medicine in Older Americans: Results From the Health and Retirement Study

Jose Ness, MD1, Dominic J. Cirillo2, David R. Weir, PhD3, Nicole L. Nisly, MD1 and Robert B. Wallace, MD, MSc2

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Jose Ness, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, SE624GH, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242. E-mail: jose-ness{at}

Purpose: The correlates of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) utilization among elders have not been fully investigated. This study was designed to identify such correlates in a large sample of older adults, thus generating new data relevant to consumer education, medical training, and health practice and policy. Design and Methods: A subsample from the 2000 Wave of the Health and Retirement Study (n = 1,099) aged 52 or older were surveyed regarding use of CAM (chiropractic, alternative practitioners, dietary and herbal supplements, and personal practices). Results: Of respondents over 65 years of age, 88% used CAM, with dietary supplements and chiropractic most commonly reported (65% and 46%, respectively). Users of alternate practitioners and dietary supplements reported having more out-of-pocket expenses on health than nonusers of these modalities. Age correlated positively with use of dietary supplements and personal practices and inversely with alternative practitioner use. Men reported less CAM use than women, except for chiropractic and personal practices. Blacks and Hispanics used fewer dietary supplements and less chiropractic, but they reported more personal practices than Whites. Advanced education correlated with fewer chiropractic visits and more dietary and herbal supplement and personal practices use. Higher income, functional impairment, alcohol use, and frequent physician visits correlated with more alternative practitioner use. There was no association between CAM and number of chronic diseases. Implications: The magnitude and patterns of CAM use among elders lend considerable importance to this field in public health policy making and suggest a need for further epidemiological research and ongoing awareness efforts for both patients and providers.

Key Words: Complementary therapies • Alternative medicine • Chiropractic • Dietary supplements

This article has been cited by other articles:

Home page
Evid Based Complement Alternat MedHome page
F. L. Bishop and G. T. Lewith
Who Uses CAM? A Narrative Review of Demographic Characteristics and Health Factors Associated with CAM Use
Evid. Based Complement. Altern. Med., March 13, 2008; (2008) nen023v1.
[Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]

Home page
J Holist NursHome page
G. J. McDougall Jr., V. Austin-Wells, and T. Zimmerman
Utility of Nutraceutical Products Marketed for Cognitive and Memory Enhancement
J Holist Nurs, December 1, 2005; 23(4): 415 - 433.
[Abstract] [PDF]

All GSA journals Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Copyright © 2005 by The Gerontological Society of America.