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Pediatrics. 2003 Mar;111(3):584-7.

Use of complementary and alternative medical therapies among children with special health care needs in southern Arizona.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA.



The objective of this study was to assess the frequency and type of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies used by families of children with special health care needs in southern Arizona, as well as the correlates of their use.


Families of 376 children who were receiving services in a regional facility that serves children with special health care needs and were residing in southern Arizona were surveyed regarding CAM use.


Sixty-four percent of these families reported using CAM for their child. The most common CAM therapies were spiritual healing/prayer/blessings. Of the conditions that were evaluated as correctable, the use rate was 24% as compared with a 76% use rate for children with a nonrepairable condition. Use of CAM for the child was strongly related to the use of CAM in the past by the family member who responded to the survey. The reasons that parents most frequently chose for using CAM were advice from a medical practitioner and advice from a family member.


Use of CAM for children with special health care needs is common. Its frequency and type are significantly associated with the child's condition and prognosis.

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