Online Program

Use and perceptions of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for arthritis

Monday, November 4, 2013

Patricia A. Sharpe, PhD, MPH, Prevention Research Center, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Sara Wilcox, PhD, Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Andrew Ortaglia, PhD, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC
Brent Hutto, MSPH, Prevention Research Center, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Introduction. CAM use for arthritis management is prevalent in the US. The purpose was to describe the use and perceived helpfulness of CAM, and its association with symptoms, among adults with arthritis (n=401). Methods. Between March 2010 and October 2011, 401 adults in South Carolina, USA, who enrolled in an exercise trial provided baseline data prior to intervention. Results. During the previous three months, 76.1% (n=305) had used at least one CAM modality (mean=1.6). The top modality was dietary supplements. Female gender and higher education predicted greater use. Among users, 59.3% perceived “a little” or “a lot” of help for arthritis; the more modalities used, the greater the odds for perceiving help for arthritis. Compared to users of one modality, users of two had 3.2 times the odds (OR=3.2, CI= 1.8, 5.7) and users of three or more had 8.9 times the odds (OR=8.9, CI=4.6, 17.0) of reporting help for arthritis. Yet, adjusted for medication, CAM users (1+) reported higher pain, stiffness, fatigue (past 2 weeks) and depressive (past week) symptoms. Only yoga users reported lower levels of all four symptoms than non-users; dietary changers and relaxation users reported higher levels of all four (p-values<.05). Discussion. More than half of users believed that CAM had helped their arthritis, and this perception was strongly associated with the number of CAM modalities used in the previous three months, yet among the top three modalities, only yoga use in the past three months was associated with lower symptoms in the past 1-2 weeks.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention

Learning Objectives:
Describe the prevalence of CAM use and its perceived helpfulness for arthritis among adults in a South Carolina sample. Describe the association of specific CAM modalities' use to pain, stiffness,fatigue and depressive symptoms.

Keyword(s): Arthritis, Alternative Medicine/Therapies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have more than 20 years' experience as a public health researcher in health promotion research and have been principal and co-investigator on federally funded research.
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.