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Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Increases Positive Lifestyle Factors
August 28, 2012 -
This study is published by Advances in Mind-body Medicine.

Context: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to a wide range of disease-treating and preventive therapies that are not considered traditional or conventional by biomedical standards. Research suggests that CAM use is increasing. Understanding lifestyle differences based on level of CAM use may be important knowledge for health-care providers.

Objectives: To understand the relationship between level of CAM use (high, medium, or low) and three lifestyle factors-spirituality (ie, a sense of fulfillment from being spiritual), environmental consciousness (ie, a concern for the environment), and health awareness (ie, monitoring the nutritional value of food). Design Participants completed the Perspectives on the Use in Communities of CAM questionnaire, which measures levels of spirituality, environmental consciousness, and health awareness among CAM users. Participants also rated their frequency of CAM use across a wide array of CAM practices. The authors calculated total CAM use by summing the frequency of use of 28 CAM therapies, and they grouped individuals into three categories of usage: low (n = 42), medium (n = 108), and high (n = 40). They then examined the relationships between the use categories and the three lifestyle categories.

Setting: The study occurred at a midsized Midwestern university, the University of South Dakota. Participants included 131 female and 59 male college students (young adults).

Outcome Measures: The authors performed a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) with three dependent variables: spirituality, environmental consciousness, and health awareness. The independent variable was level of CAM use. Results: MANOVAs indicated significant main effects, suggesting changes in lifestyle practices based on level of CAM use. Follow-up results and planned pairwise comparisons suggest that level of CAM use affected all three lifestyle practices. Moreover, unexpected results demonstrated that as the level of CAM use increased from medium to high, health awareness also increased.

Conclusion: The results suggest that as CAM use increases, positive lifestyle factors increase. These findings highlight the importance of CAM use as a method of increasing overall health as well as improving practitioners' understanding of and ability to assist patients in increasing overall well-being through nontraditional or nonconventional means.




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