Unconventional Medicine in the United States - Prevalence, Costs, and Patterns of Use, The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 328, No. 4, January 28, 1993, Eisenberg, Kessler, Foster, Norlock, Calkins, Delbanco
In this groundbreaking study, people were asked whether or not they used alternative medicine. It was discovered that 34% of respondents reported using at least one form of alternative medicine during the previous year. Of this group utilizing alternative therapies, the average number of visits during that calendar year period was 19.
The majority used alternative medicine for chronic problems. It was found that 72% of the respondents who used alternative medicine did not inform their medical doctor.
The findings of this study show that in 1990 Americans made an estimated 425 million visits to alternative health care providers . . . exceeding the total number of visits to all primary care physicians (388 million).
This study concluded that the frequency of alternative medicine in the United States was far higher than previously reported; sending a "shock wave" through medicine.
(Information sources for this study: Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Dept. of Medicine, Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School; the Institute for Social Research, Ann Arbor; the Division of General Medicine, Dept. of Medicine, New England Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston; and Chicago College for Osteopathic Medicine, Chicago)
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Harvard Medical School Office of Public Affairs News Release, 617-432-0442, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use By One Third of the U.S. Adults Unchanged From 1997, January 2005
BOSTON, MA - In a comparison of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by adults in 1997 and 2002, researchers at Harvard Medical School found more than one in three U.S. adults used at least one form of alternative medicine. This study clearly demonstrates the widespread and continued use of both individual as well as multiple alternative therapies.
"Our research over the past 14 years has shown a consistent level of usage by adult Americans," said Dr. Eisenberg. He goes on, "This is to say that these therapies are part of the fabric of modern day health care."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: The primary researcher in these studies was Dr. David Eisenberg. He is currently the director of the Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies and the Osher Institute; both at the Harvard Medical School.