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Complementary Medicine Used More by Health Care Workers

Last Updated: August 26, 2011.

U.S. health care workers, especially health care providers, are more likely to use complementary and alternative medicine than the general, employed U.S. population, according to a study published online Aug. 19 in Health Services Research.

FRIDAY, Aug. 26 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health care workers, especially health care providers, are more likely to use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) than the general, employed U.S. population, according to a study published online Aug. 22 in Health Services Research.

Pamela Jo Johnson, M.P.H., Ph.D., from the Allina Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis, and colleagues examined the personal use of 36 types of CAM therapies among U.S. health care workers. Data were collected from the 2007 Alternative Health Supplement of the National Health Interview Survey. A nationally representative sample of 14,329 employed adults, including a subsample of 1,280 adults employed in hospitals or ambulatory care settings, were examined. Health care workers were divided into four categories: providers, technicians, support workers, and other occupations. The odds of CAM use in each category in the past year were assessed by multivariate logistic regression.

The investigators found that, compared to the general population, health care workers were more likely to use CAM (76 versus 63 percent). Health care workers were significantly more likely to use and self-treat with CAM compared with employees in other industries. Health care workers in ambulatory care were significantly more likely to have used CAM in the past year compared to those working in hospitals. Health care providers were more likely to have past-year practitioner-based CAM use and self-treatment with CAM compared to support workers (adjusted odds ratio, 2.2 and 2.7, respectively).

"This study provides the first population-based description of CAM use by U.S. health care workers. Our analyses reveal that, overall, health care workers are significantly more likely to use CAM therapies, particularly mind-body therapies, than the employed U.S. population," the authors write.

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