Objective: To describe patterns of conventional health care (CH) and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among U.S. adults reporting recent joint symptoms in a nationally representative sample. Design: This study uses the adult alternative medicine supplement from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Location: United States. Subjects: Nationally representative cross-sectional sample of non-institutionalized U.S. residents. Of 34,525 respondents who answered the alternative medicine supplement, approximately 30% (n = 10,964) reported recent pain symptoms (pain, aching, stiffness). Outcome measures: Among adults reporting joint symptoms, we examine reported use of CH, CAM, both CH and CAM, or neither specifically for joint symptoms or joint condition. Results: Among adults reporting joint symptoms in the past 30 days, 64% reported using only CH for their joint pain, whereas *10% reported using CAM. Among those using CAM for their joint symptoms, 83% also sought help from a CH practitioner. CAM-only users comprised only 1.6% of the sample of joint pain sufferers. Those who reported using both CH and CAM for joint pain were more likely to report a diagnosis of a joint condition compared with CAM-only users, but also reported higher comorbidities and worse self-reported health. Conclusion: Most U.S. adults reporting recent joint pain seek care only from a CH practitioner, although among the 10% who report CAM use for joint conditions, a strong majority also report seeking care from a CH practitioner. CH and CAM providers should consistently inquire about other forms of treatment their patients are using for specific symptoms to provide effective integrative health care management.
- Complementary and alternative medicine
- Conventional health care
- Health care seeking
- Integrative health care
- Joint pain