241002 Alternative and Complementary Health Practices in the U.S. During Young Adulthood: Does Personality Matter?

Monday, October 31, 2011: 4:50 PM

Bethany Wexler Rainisch, MPH , Department of Community Health Sciences, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Dawn M. Upchurch, PhD , School of Public Health Department of Community Health Sciences, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
The present study examines complementary and alternative medicine use among a nationally representative sample of young adults, and assesses whether such use is affected by individual personality type. The prevalence of use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) within the United States is high, but a national profile of young adult CAM users has yet to be identified. While health insurance coverage reaches its lowest point at age 22, and young adults age 17-29 engage in the most risk-taking behaviors, younger generations as early adopters may be more open to trying new techniques. The current study assesses 14,976 young adults age 18-27 from Wave 3 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. CAM use was determined based on whether fifteen alternative or non-Western medical techniques were used in the past year, such as acupuncture, hypnosis, or relaxation techniques. Personality was measured using a thirty-item personality inventory to classify respondents into one of the Big Five personality traits, such as extraversion or openness to experience. Prevalence estimates and logistic regression results were weighted, and variance estimates were adjusted for complex sample design. Preliminary results show that overall CAM use was relatively low, with herbal remedies, chiropractic treatment, and massage therapy the most frequently used among young adults. Additionally, openness to experience was positively associated with all CAM use. Evidence was found that CAM use among young adults is not as prevalent as anticipated. However, specific personality traits were found to be associated with young adult CAM use.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health biology
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1.Describe the prevalence of recent CAM use in the US among young adults and the differences in prevalence across race and ethnic groups, separately by gender. 2.Identify and discuss whether specific personality traits are associated with young adult CAM use overall and/or particular CAM techniques. 3.Discuss possible implications of findings with regard to public health outreach and health education.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a graduate student interested in the health of adolescents and young adults, and have been working on nationally representative data to determine the prevalence of CAM use among the younger population.
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.