Objective: This study investigated the demographic, behavioral, and health correlates of the most frequently used types of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy and the use of prayer for health among midlife women. We also examined the extent to which women used CAM for treatment of health conditions, including menopausal symptoms, and for general health and well-being. Methods: Data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a cross-sectional, household survey representative of the U.S. civilian adult population, were used. Midlife women aged 40-59 years (n=5849) were analyzed. Bivariate prevalence estimates were obtained, and binomial logistic regression models were estimated; all analyses were weighted. Results: Overall, 46% of midlife women used any type of CAM in the past 12 months, and 54% reported using prayer for health reasons. The top five specific CAM therapies used were herbs and natural products; relaxation techniques; chiropractic care; yoga, tai chi, or qi gong; and massage. Multivariate results demonstrated different patterns of association between demographic, health, and behavioral characteristics and specific CAM therapies. A higher percentage of women used chiropractic care for an existing health condition than those using relaxation techniques, and few women used CAM specifically for menopausal symptoms. Conclusions: CAM and prayer are frequently used by midlife women, and herbs and natural supplements are the mostly frequently used. The findings underscore the importance, particularly in the clinical setting, of asking women about their use of individual CAM therapies. Such clinical assessment is also important because of the potential for interactions of CAM therapies with prescribed therapies.
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