195402 A Prevalence Study of Folk Remedy Use by the Middle-Appalachian Elderly

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 8:50 AM

Nicole W. Brynes, BA , Hampshire College, Parkton, MD
Elizabeth Conlisk , School of Natural Science, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA
Christopher D. Jarvis, PhD , School of Natural Science, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA
Nancy Lowry, PhD , School of Natural Science, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA
Background. In a nationally representative sample, 39% of people over the age of 50 in the U.S. reported use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). However, no studies have estimated the prevalence of CAM use in West Virginia among rural, remote senior citizens, an at-risk population because of its lack of access to health care and high rate of health problems.

Methods. A survey on CAM use, disclosure of remedy use to physician, and perception of physician's feelings about CAM was distributed at six randomly selected senior centers throughout northeastern West Virginia. Fifty-nine seniors, ages 55 - 95, completed the survey.

Results. Over eighty percent of respondents (95% CI: 70%, 90%) reported CAM use (excluding prayer) of some kind. Fifty-six percent of respondents (46%, 66%) always informed their primary care doctors of their remedy use.

Discussion. Self-reported use of CAM in this rural region of Appalachia is much higher than in a nationally representative sample of people over age 50. This disparity underscores a need for different training for regionally-practicing health care professionals to increase CAM disclosure by patients and better respond to the high levels of local remedy use.

Learning Objectives:
1. List the five most common types of alternative and complementary medical therapies used by senior citizens in rural West Virginia. 2. Explain at least two reasons for elevated use of complementary therapies in Appalachia among senior citizens. 3. Discuss one way in which health care providers can better communicate with rural, elderly patients.

Keywords: Rural Health, Elderly

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I developed, researched and completed this project as my thesis at Hampshire College.
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.