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J Clin Rheumatol. 2007 Feb;13(1):3-11.

Racial/ethnic differences in the use of complementary and alternative medicine in patients with arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-0920, USA.



To examine use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by individuals with osteoarthritis (OA) from 4 ethnic groups, differences in CAM use among groups, and correlates of CAM use.


Data were obtained from individuals from 4 ethnic groups (African, Asian, and Hispanic Americans, and Caucasians) participating in trials assessing celecoxib efficacy. A questionnaire assessing CAMs specifically used to help arthritis was administered at screening. Use of 42 specific therapies within 7 categories-alternative medical systems, mind-body interventions, manipulation and body-based methods, energy therapies, and 3 types of biologically based therapies--was queried.


More than 80% of subjects reported that they used some CAM for arthritis in the past month. In contrast, 50% reported the use of prescription medicines, and 52% reported the use of over-the-counter medicines. Dietary practices were the most common type of CAM (71.5%), followed by mind-body interventions (42.4%), topical agents (38.1%), use of supplements or herbs (32.9%), and manipulation and body-based methods (21.4%). African Americans were more likely to report any CAM use than other groups (89.1% versus 83.1% [Asian], 81.1% [Hispanic], 77.7% [Caucasian]). African and Asian Americans more commonly reported the use of mind-body interventions in general, and prayer in particular. African Americans were also most likely to report the use of topical agents. Asian Americans were most likely to report use of alternative medical systems, manipulation methods, and supplements. Caucasians were least likely to report use of dietary practices.


Individuals with OA commonly use CAM. Use of these therapies varies by racial/ethnic group. Some CAMs may be effective for symptom relief, while others may interact with prescription medications, suggesting that routine queries by physicians concerning CAM use would be beneficial.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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