179926 Sexual Orientation and Complementary & Alternative Medicine Use: Women Enrolled in the ESTHER Study

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Helen Smith, MA , Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Nina Markovic, PhD , Graduate School of Public Health, Dept. of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Deborah J. Aaron, PhD , Department of Health and Physical Activity, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Michelle Danielson, PhD , Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA
To investigate Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) use among lesbian and heterosexual women, data from the ESTHER Project (Epidemiologic STudy of HEalth Risk in Women) was analyzed. The ESTHER Project collected data on women aged >34 between 2003 and 2006. A total of 1084 subjects were consented and provided data used to examine the association between CAM use and sexual orientation. Women self-identified as lesbian (n= 504) or heterosexual (n= 580). CAM was defined generally (ever used and within the past 12 months) and specifically (i.e. herbal medicines, yoga, etc). Chi square tests compared prevalence of use. Lesbians had significantly higher rates of CAM use ever and within the past 12 months. The prevalence of specific CAM practices were similar between groups with the exception of heterosexuals reporting significantly higher rates of aroma therapy (p=.04) and yoga (p=.004). Logistic regression analysis adjusting for potential confounders (including age, race, education, income, health insurance, and religion) found that for ever used CAM, the adjusted Odds Ratio (OR) for lesbians was 1.45 (95% CI 1.08, 1.95). The adjusted OR of CAM use in the last 12 months was not statistically significant. The data suggest that CAM use varies by sexual orientation, and that lesbians may be earlier adopters.

Lesbian Heterosexual

%Reporting %Reporting p value

Ever Used 57 35 <.0001

Used Last 12 Mo 56 44 <.0001

Acupuncture 8 5 0.15

Aroma Therapy 6 11 0.04

Herbal Medicines 24 23 0.74

Massage 72 64 0.08

Yoga 25 38 0.004

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the prevalence of complementary and alternative health practices in adult women, specifically in relation to sexual orientation. 2. Identify predictors of complementary and alternative health practices in a sample of 1084 women in Pittsburgh, PA. 3. Describe the similarities and differences in complementary and alternative health practices among lesbian and heterosexual women. Also, recognize the public health significance behind lesbian women's use of complementary and alternative health practices.

Keywords: Lesbian Health, Alternative Medicine/Therapies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh. I am being supervised under 3 epidemiologists who hold PhDs and who were the principal investigators for the ESTHER Project. I used data from the ESTHER Project for the proposed analysis. In addition, was a graduate student researcher for the ESTHER Project and helped collect data for this study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.