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CAM Use Popular in U.S.


About 38 percent of adults in the United States use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy, according to a new nationwide government survey released in December 2008. And while the overall use of CAM therapies has remained steady over the past five years, use of massage therapy has increased more than 65 percent.

This survey was part of the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, an annual study of the health- and illness-related experiences of Americans, and was developed by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). It included questions on 36 types of commonly used CAM therapies—10 provider-based therapies, such as acupuncture, chiropractic and massage, and 26 other therapies that do not require a provider, such as herbal supplements and meditation.

The survey results represent the first update of data gathered by NCCAM and NCHS in the 2002 National Health Interview Survey. Comparing the data from the 2002 and 2007 shows significant increases in the use of some specific CAM therapies, such as deep breathing, meditation, massage therapy and yoga.

The 2007 survey marks the first time questions were included on children’s use of CAM. Nearly 12 percent— about one in nine—of U.S. children use CAM. Children are five times more likely to use CAM if a parent or other relative uses CAM. Other factors in CAM use are similar for both adults and children, such as socioeconomic status, geographic region, the number of health conditions, the number of doctor visits in the last 12 months, and delaying or not receiving conventional care because of cost.

“These statistics confirm that CAM practices are a frequently used component of Americans’ health care regimens, and reinforce the need for rigorous research to study the safety and effectiveness of these therapies,” says Josephine P. Briggs, MD, director of NCCAM. “The data also point out the need for patients and health care providers to openly discuss CAM use to ensure safe and coordinated care.”

Most Used CAM Therapies in 2007


Adults, 18 and up

Children under 18

Nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products such as fish oil/omega 3/DHA, glucosamine, echinacea and ginseng

17.7 percent

3.9 percent


Deep breathing exercises

12.7 percent

2.2 percent


9.4 percent


Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation

8.6 percent

2.8 percent


8.3 percent



6.1 percent

2.1 percent

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