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Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Elderly Persons: One-Year Analysis of a Blue Shield Medicare Supplement

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Elderly Persons: One-Year Analysis of a Blue Shield Medicare Supplement,John A. Astin,Kenneth R. Pell

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Elderly Persons: One-Year Analysis of a Blue Shield Medicare Supplement   (Citations: 70)
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Background. Large scale surveys in the United States and abroad suggest that 35-60% of adults have used some form of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM). However, no studies to date have focused on predictors and patterns of CAM use among elderly persons. Methods. The population surveyed were Calilbrnians enrolled in a Medicare risk product that offers coverage for acu- puncture and chiropractic care. Surveys were mailed to 1597 members in 1997 and responses received by 728 (51 % response rate). Health risk assessment data were also obtained at baseline and 12-15 months following enrollment in the plan. Multiple logistic regression analyses were carried out to examine predictors of CAM use. Results. Forty-one percent of seniors reported use of CAM. Herbs (24%), chiropractic (20%), massage (15%), and acu- puncture (14%) were the most frequently cited therapies. CAM users tended to be younger, more educated, report either arthritis and/or depression/anxiety, not be hypertensive, engage in exercise, practice meditation, and make more frequent physi- cian visits. Use of CAM was not associated with any observed changes in health status. Respondents also expressed con- siderable interest in receiving third-party coverage I'orCAM. Although 80% reported that they had received substantial benefit from their use of CAM. the majority (58%) did not discuss the use of these therapies with their medical doctor. Conclusions. Findings suggest that there is signilicant interest in and use of complementary/alternative medicine among elderly persons. These results suggest the importance of further research into the use and potential efficacy of these therapies within the senior population.
Published in 2000.
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