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Open AccessArticle

Health Behavior Change and Complementary Medicine Use: National Health Interview Survey 2012

Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), University of Technology Sydney, Sydney PO Box 123, Broadway NSW 2007, Australia
Sozialstiftung Bamberg, 96049 Bamberg, Germany
Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine, University of Duisburg-Essen, 45276 Essen, Germany
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, T1K 3M4, Canada
Faculty of Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia
Department of Rural Health, University of South Australia, Whyalla Norrie SA 5608, Australia
Jockey Club School of Public Health & Primary Care and School of Chinese Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Sha Tin 999077, Hong Kong
Musculoskeletal & Sports Injury Epidemiology Center (MUSIC), Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden
Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX 76109, USA
Department of Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation, Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 8ST, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Medicina 2019, 55(10), 632;
Received: 14 August 2019 / Revised: 16 September 2019 / Accepted: 17 September 2019 / Published: 24 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Complementary and Integrative Medicine)
Background and objectives: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use has been associated with preventive health behaviors. However, the role of CAM use in patients’ health behaviors remains unclear. This study aimed to determine the extent to which patients report that CAM use motivates them to make changes to their health behaviors. Materials and Methods: This secondary analysis of 2012 National Health Interview Survey data involved 10,201 CAM users living in the United States who identified up to three CAM therapies most important to their health. Analyses assessed the extent to which participants reported that their CAM use motivated positive health behavior changes, specifically: eating healthier, eating more organic foods, cutting back/stopping drinking alcohol, cutting back/quitting smoking cigarettes, and/or exercising more regularly. Results: Overall, 45.4% of CAM users reported being motivated by CAM to make positive health behavior changes, including exercising more regularly (34.9%), eating healthier (31.4%), eating more organic foods (17.2%), reducing/stopping smoking (16.6% of smokers), or reducing/stopping drinking alcohol (8.7% of drinkers). Individual CAM therapies motivated positive health behavior changes in 22% (massage) to 81% (special diets) of users. People were more likely to report being motivated to change health behaviors if they were: aged 18–64 compared to those aged over 65 years; of female gender; not in a relationship; of Hispanic or Black ethnicity, compared to White; reporting at least college education, compared to people with less than high school education; without health insurance. Conclusions: A sizeable proportion of respondents were motivated by their CAM use to undertake health behavior changes. CAM practices and practitioners could help improve patients’ health behavior and have potentially significant implications for public health and preventive medicine initiatives; this warrants further research attention. View Full-Text
Keywords: health behavior; complementary and alternative medicine; health attitudes; motivations; lifestyle health behavior; complementary and alternative medicine; health attitudes; motivations; lifestyle
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Bishop, F.L.; Lauche, R.; Cramer, H.; Pinto, J.W.; Leung, B.; Hall, H.; Leach, M.; Chung, V.C.; Sundberg, T.; Zhang, Y.; Steel, A.; Ward, L.; Sibbritt, D.; Adams, J. Health Behavior Change and Complementary Medicine Use: National Health Interview Survey 2012. Medicina 2019, 55, 632.

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