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Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use among Adults with Diabetes In The United States

Ronny A. Bell, PhD, MS; Cynthia K. Suerken, MS; Joseph G. Grzywacz, PhD; Wei Lang, PhD; Sara A. Quandt, PhD; Thomas A. Arcury, PhD

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is an increasingly common form of self-care in the United States.1 Estimates indicate that nearly twothirds of adults in the United States have used some form of CAM in their lifetime, and 62% of adults report current use.2,3 CAM of many different forms is used both for prevention and treatment of acute and chronic health conditions. Medical care for diabetes is multifaceted, making it likely that CAM use among people with diabetes is substantial. However, there are few representative data on CAM use among people with diabetes.

Only 2 nationally representative samples have been published examining CAM use among people with diabetes. Yeh et al showed that 57% of people with diabetes used CAM in the past year, a rate that was similar to the general population.4 Use of CAM for treatment of diabetes was limited mostly to prayer and spiritual practice (28.2%), herbal therapies (6.6%), and commercial diet (6.4%). This study was limited by a small number of people with diabetes (N=95). Egede et al, measuring a more limited set of CAM therapies, showed that approximately 8% of people with diabetes use CAM.5 People with diabetes were 1.6 times more likely than those without diabetes to use any CAM therapy. This study did not measure use of CAM for treating diabetes.

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