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Use of Complementary Therapies among Hispanic and Non-Hispanic White Adults with Arthritis

Funding Number

U48-CCU610818-07 (SIP 4-00)

Project Description

Use of complementary and alternative therapies (CAM) is reported to be high among people with arthritis, but little information has been available on the use of CAM among individuals with doctor-diagnosed arthritis who are seen by primary care physicians. The purpose of this study was to assess the use of CAM among predominantly urban Hispanic and non-Hispanic adults with physician-diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), or fibromyalgia. Six hundred twelve adults with arthritis, who saw physicians in primary care clinics associated with the University of New Mexico, were interviewed to determine their use of CAM; of those interviewed, 45% were Hispanic and 71% were female.

Key Findings

  • 69% of respondents reported current CAM use; 90% of respondents reported they had tried CAM at some point for their arthritis.
  • CAM therapies most frequently used at the time of the interview were:
    • Nutritional supplements (mainly glucosamine and chondrotin) (34%)
    • Mind-body approaches (29%)
    • Herbal topical ointments (25%).
  • CAM users with fibromyalgia currently used an average of 3.9 CAM therapies; CAM users with RA used 2.4, and CAM users with OA used 2.1 CAM therapies on average.
  • Current CAM use was associated with being female, under 55 years of age, and having some college education.
  • 67% of CAM users had told their doctor they were using CAM.

Abstracts, Publications, Presentations

Herman CJ, Allen P, Hunt WC, Prasad A, Brady TJ. Use of Complementary therapies among primary care clinic patients with arthritis. Preventing Chronic Disease (serial online) 2004 Oct. Available from

Herman CJ, Allen P, Hunt WC, Pareo S, Prasad A. Complementary Therapies Use Among Older Adults with Arthritis. JAGS 2003, 51:S53.

Principal Investigator

Carla J. Herman, M.D., M.P.H.
Chief, Division of Geriatrics
Department of Internal Medicine,
School of Medicine
University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center

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