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Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use in Arthritis

Funding Number

U48/CCU409660 SIP 4-00

Project Description

Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among people with arthritis is believed to be common, but little is know about characteristics that influence the use of CAM. The primary goal of this project was to explore CAM use among persons diagnosed with the three most common forms of arthritis (osteoarthritis [OA], rheumatoid arthritis [RA], fibromyalgia) from specialty and primary care settings. Ninety eight types of CAM were clustered into 8 categories such as rubs and creams, special diets, nutritional supplements, and mind/body therapies. Two thousand one hundred forty three individuals being followed in North Carolina specialty or primary care clinics completed a written survey on their use of 8 categories of CAM. Eighty percent of the sample was white, 79% were female, and average age was 57.

Key Findings

  • Disability (as measured by the Health Assessment Questionnaire disability index) was the health status measure associated with the use of the most CAM categories.
  • Pain, helplessness, and medical skepticism were also associated with multiple categories of CAM use.
  • Being female was associated with CAM use in 6 of the 8 CAM categories, even after adjustment for health status.
  • People with arthritis in rural areas, and those with lower education levels were less likely to use most forms of CAM.
  • Older age was associated with use of vitamins and supplements; younger age was associated with rubs and CAM providers.
  • 71% of people who reported using some form of CAM reported discussing it with their doctor.

Abstracts, Publications, Presentations

Sheyn Y, Callahan LF, Mielenz T, Jordan J, Sloane P. Patterns of Complementary and Alternative Care Provider Use by Patients of Family Physicians Subspecialists. Manuscript in preparation.

Sleath B, Callahan LF, DeVellis R, Sloane PD. Primary care physicians’ participatory decision-making style and communication about complementary and alternative medicine for arthritis. Complementary and Alternative Medicine, in press, 2005, 22 pages.

Sleath B, Callahan LF, DeVellis R, Sloane PD. Primary care physicians’ participatory decision-making style and communication about complementary and alternative medicine for arthritis. Complementary and Alternative Medicine, in press, 2005, 22 pages.

Callahan LF, Mielenz T, Sloane P, DeVellis R, Sleath B. Health status correlates with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in 2143 individuals with arthritis. Arthritis Rheum 2004;50:9, S696.

Mielenz T, Callahan LF, Sloane P, DeVellis R, Sleath B. Associations between age, sex, marital status, race, education, and urban/rural status with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in 2143 individuals with arthritis. Arthritis Rheum 2004;50:9, S696.

Mielenz TJ, Callahan LF. Prediction and Utilization of CAM Movement Therapies by Patients with Arthritis. PT 2005: The Annual Conference and Exposition of the APTA, June 11, 2005, Boston, MA.

Callahan LF, et al. Use of complementary and alternative medicine among patients with arthritis. Prev Chronic Dis 2009;6(2):A44. Epub 2009 Mar 16.

Callahan LF, Freburger JK, Mielenz TJ, Wiley-Exley EK. Medical skepticism and the use complementary and alternative health care providers by patients followed by rheumatologists. J Clin Rheumatol 2008;14(3):143–147.

Sleath B, Cahoon WD Jr, Sloane PD, Callahan LF. Use of conventional and nonconventional treatments for osteoarthritis in the family medicine setting. South Med J 2008;101(3):252–259.

Wiley-Exley EK, Mielenz TJ, Norton EC, Callahan LF. Complementary and alternative medicine use in musculoskeletal disorders: does medical skepticism matter? Open Rheumatol J 2007;1:5–11. Epub 2007 Sep 18.

Principal Investigator

Leigh F. Callahan, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
leighcal@medicineexch.med.unc.edu

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