Military Reports More CAM Use Than Civilians
Written by Editor   
Monday, April 16, 2018 11:06 AM

Many people in the united states (U.S.) use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and its use is increasing. The National Institutes of Health defines CAM as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. In 1990, a national survey estimated that 33.8% of U.S. adults used CAM in the previous year, which increased to 42.1% in 1997 and 62% in the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). 

The objective of this study was to estimate complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among active duty military and compare data with civilian use. A global survey on CAM use in the 12 previous months was conducted. Final participants (16,146) were stratified by gender, service, region, and pay grade. Analysis included prevalence of CAM use, demographic and lifestyle characteristics.

Approximately 45% of respondents reported using at least one type of CAM therapy. Most commonly used therapies were as follows: prayer for one’s own health (24.4%), massage therapy (14.1%), and relaxation techniques (10.8%). After exclusion of prayer for one’s own health, adjusting to the 2000 U.S. census, overall CAM use in the military (44.5%) was higher than that in comparable civilian surveys (36.0% and 38.3%).

Military personnel reported using three CAM stress-reduction therapies at 2.5-7 times the rate of civilians. Among the military, high utilization of CAM practices that reduce stress may serve as markers for practitioners assessing an individual’s health and well-being.