OBJECTIVES:Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has increased over the past two decades, and a growing body of evidence suggests that some CAM modalities may be useful in addressing gastrointestinal (GI) conditions. However, the overall pattern of CAM use for GI conditions remains unknown. We sought to elucidate the prevalence and patterns of CAM use among US adults with GI conditions.METHODS:We used the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (n=34,525), a nationally representative survey of the civilian, noninstitutionalized US population, to estimate the prevalence of CAM use among adults with GI conditions (abdominal pain, acid reflux/heartburn, digestive allergy, liver condition, nausea and/or vomiting, stomach or intestinal illness, and ulcer). We also examined the reasons for CAM use, perceived helpfulness, and disclosure of use to health-care providers among individuals who specifically used CAM to address a GI condition. Prevalence estimates were weighted to reflect the complex sampling design of the survey.RESULTS:Of the 13,505 respondents with a GI condition in the past year, 42% (n=5629) used CAM in the past year and 3% (n=407) used at least one CAM modality to address a GI condition. The top three modalities among those using CAM to address GI conditions were herbs and supplements, mind body therapies, and manipulative therapies. Of those using CAM to address a GI condition, 47% used three or more CAM therapies, and over 80% felt that it was helpful in addressing a GI condition and was important in maintaining health and well-being. Respondents told their health-care providers about use of these therapies 70% of the time.CONCLUSIONS:CAM was used by 42% of respondents with a GI condition in the past year. A small proportion use CAM specifically to address their GI condition, but the majority who do find it helpful. The most commonly used modalities in this group are herbs and supplements, and mind body and manipulative therapies.
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