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Arthritis Rheum. 2005 Oct 15;53(5):748-55.

Use of complementary and alternative medicine by persons with arthritis: results of the National Health Interview Survey.

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  • 1Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA. squandt@wfubmc.edu



To compare the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) used by adults ages 45 years and older with and without arthritis, and to investigate the prevalence and predictors of CAM use by persons who report being told by a doctor they had arthritis.


Data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey with a supplemental section on CAM use were analyzed. Data on overall use and use by 4 CAM modalities were calculated by arthritis status. CAM use for treatment of any health condition, including arthritis, was calculated and compared by arthritis status. Logistic regression was used to identify predictors of CAM use among persons with arthritis.


Overall use of CAM and use of 3 of 4 major CAM categories were higher for persons who reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis compared with those without arthritis. Biologically based therapies were the most frequently reported modalities. Although persons with arthritis were more likely than those without arthritis to report using CAM for treatment, most of their CAM use was for conditions other than arthritis. Joint pain and poor functional status were the most common predictors of CAM modalities among persons with arthritis.


Health care providers of persons with arthritis should be aware that CAM use is common among their patients. A complete medication history is needed to obtain information on CAM use for all conditions.

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