Ethnic Differences in the Use of Complementary and Alternative Therapies Among Adults With Osteoarthritis
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Ethnic Differences in the Use of Complementary and Alternative Therapies Among Adults With Osteoarthritis

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  • English

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    • Alternative Title:
      Prev Chronic Dis
    • Description:

      The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the United States has been rising steadily, especially among people with chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis. It has been suggested that ethnicity and acculturation may influence use of CAM. The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of ethnicity and acculturation on patterns of CAM use among Hispanic and non-Hispanic white adults with osteoarthritis.


      We conducted interviews in person, in English or Spanish, using a 255-item survey. We randomly selected participants aged 18 to 84 years from patients at university-based primary care outpatient clinics who had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis during the previous year. Measures included prevalence and types of CAM use, sociodemographic factors, self-reported ethnicity, and degree of acculturation according to language use.


      The Hispanic (n = 218) and non-Hispanic white (n = 204) populations showed similar rates of overall current CAM use (65.5% Hispanic vs 67.8% NHW) at time of interview. However, although more Hispanics used oral herbs (P = .03) and magnets or copper jewelry (P = .03), more non-Hispanic whites used nutritional supplements (P < .001). Hispanics speaking primarily English mirrored patterns of CAM use among non-Hispanic whites. These effects persisted after controlling for age, sex, income, education, degree of disability, and disease duration.


      In this population, ethnicity was a significant influence on patterns of CAM use but did not affect overall rates of use. Some differences were more pronounced among Spanish-speaking Hispanics, reflecting the incorporation of folk or traditional remedies into their health care practices.

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