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J Natl Med Assoc. 2010 Jul;102(7):562-9.

Complementary and alternative medical practice: self-care preferred vs. practitioner-based care among patients with asthma.

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School of Community Health and Policy, Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland 21251, USA.



Interest in disease self-management has increased as the US population ages, as health care costs skyrocket, and as more evidence is gathered on the etiologic basis of most chronic diseases. This study uses National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data to analyze the association between asthma episode during the past 12 months and patterns of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use within the same period among adults, controlling for comorbid conditions.


Using questions taken from the adult sample questionnaire and the Alternative Supplement of the 2002 NHIS, responses of those ever having asthma (N=3327) were analyzed in this cross-sectional, correlational study. The chi2 test of independence was used to examine the relationships between experiencing an asthma episode in the past year, coexisting comorbidity, and the use of self-care based CAM compared to practitioner-based CAM.


Overall CAM use differed significantly by asthma status, with 49% of those with asthma episodes using CAM compared with 42% of those who did not have an episode in the past year. Self-care based therapies were more likely to be used than practitioner-based therapies by individuals with single comorbid condition compared to those with 2 or more comorbidities.


Although this study supports previous work indicating that disease severity--in this instance, asthma within the past year--is significantly associated with CAM use, it did not support studies showing greater CAM use in the presence of a greater number of comorbidities, suggesting that disease burden is a limiting factor when it comes to self-care based CAM use.

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