Disclosure to physicians is higher for users of provider-based CAM

Patients are more likely to tell medical providers about using provider-based complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) than self-care CAM, according to recent research.

In this study, researchers wanted to see if disclosure was higher for CAM modalities that are perceived to have greater legitimacy, such as provider-based domains. They also wanted to see if relative to non-Latino whites, racial/ethnic minorities were less likely to disclose CAM use to medical doctors, or whether access to and quality of conventional medical care accounted for racial/ethnic differences in CAM disclosure.

Researchers at Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, performed bivariate and multiple variable analyses of the 2002 National Health Interview Survey and 2001 Health Care Quality Survey.

They found that disclosure of CAM use to medical providers was 47% for provider-based CAM vs 34% for self-care CAM. Disclosure of any CAM was associated with factors of access to and quality of conventional care, including insurance status, source of conventional care, postponing care due to cost, having a regular doctor, and satisfaction with conventional care, the researchers say. CAM disclosure was higher among non-Latino whites relative to minorities (44% vs 30-37%). Controlling for confounding factors, having a regular doctor and a quality patient-provider relationship mitigated racial/ethnic differences in CAM disclosure.

The researchers concluded that disclosure of CAM use can be improved through consistent provider relationships, better patient-physician communication, and quality of health care across racial/ethnic groups. For more information about this study, see the November 2008 issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association.