The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) reports that approximately 38% of adults and 12% of children use some form of CAM.

But this doesn’t include the use of spirituality or religion.

When spirituality/religion is included among the CAM options, 62% of adults reported using CAM (when CAM included prayer specifically for health reasons) within the past 12 months.

Quoting from a 2002 Gallup poll, Dr. Mark Galanter from NYU School of Medicine in New York reports, “Given its prominence in Alcoholics Anonymous and related Twelve-Step groups, spirituality plays an important role in the rehabilitation of many substance-dependent people.”

Spirituality, however, is prominent within general contemporary culture, as evidenced in this sampling of American adults.

  • 95% of respondents replied positively when asked if they believe in “God or a universal spirit.”
  • For 51%, this belief affects their daily lives, as indicated by their speaking with someone about God or some aspect of their faith or spirituality within the previous 24 hours.

The bottom line?
Marianne Szegedy-Maszak, writing in US News & World Report tells us people pray for just about everything, including health, according to a survey by the National Center for Health Statistics.

  • More than half of those surveyed had at one point in their lives prayed for their own health.
  • 43% of adults prayed for their own health in the previous year.
  • 40% pray for their health “all the time.”
  • Among those who pray for their health at all, 71% pray about specific diseases like cancer, or chronic pain.
  • 65% pray because of emotional disorders or mental illness.

And when their life is on the line… 97% of patients pray the night before they have heart surgery.

2/8/09 20:07 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.