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September 1, 2003

02 Sep
It’s heartening to look back and see that the year 2002 saw many surveys in CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) usage for specific populations – kids, rural residents, people with diabetes, health plan members….

Well, remember when all we had by way of CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) statistics was the one survey that David Eisenberg did in 1988, that got quoted and requoted into the ground? Well, since that time, he’s done another major survey, and so have many others. Last year alone saw a spate of CAM surveys for specific populations – aways a good sign of the field pushing forward.

Eisenberg, for instance, checked out usage among a small sample of people with diabetes, and found that 57% had used some form of CAM therapy, and 35% specifically for diabetes.

Herron and Glasser checked out the use of CAM in small, rural Illinois communities and found nearly two thirds use some form of these therapies, with the most popular being vitamins/megavitamins, chiropractic, relaxation, and prayer/faith healing.

When Sawni-Sikand looked at usage in primary care pediatrics, where the average age was under 5, there was 12% overall use, and this was most highly associated with a parent who also availed herself of CAM.

Gray, Tan, Pronk and O’Connor surveyed CAM use in a managed care health plan (HealthPartners of Minnesota) and found that 42% reported the use of at least one CAM therapy; the most common were relaxation techniques (18%), massage (12%), herbal medicine (10%), and megavitamin therapy (9%). Perceived efficacy of CAM ranged from 76% (hypnosis) to 98% (energy healing). CAM users tended to be female, younger, better educated, and employed.

It’s heartening to see all this work moving forward, on so many fronts, and by so many different kinds of practitioners.

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Take care,

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award