CAM use among older Americans

In October 2010 the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) conducted a telephone survey.

First, the details.

  • Telephone interviews were conducted on 1,013 people aged 50 and older.

And, the results.

  • Half of the people reported using CAM.
  • More than a third were taking some type of herbal product or dietary supplement.
  • Over three-fourths were taking at least 1 prescription drug.
  • Using herbal products and supplements with certain prescription medications may cause interactions, yet only a third of all respondents and a little over half of CAM users said they have ever discussed CAM with their health care providers.
  • When respondents did talk with their providers about CAM, twice as many respondents say they, not the practitioner, initiated the conversation.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “People aged 50 and older may be missing an opportunity to improve their health care by ensuring that all of their providers have a full picture of the ways in which they seek to improve their health.”

And, “providers need to ask about CAM use at every patient visit, and people aged 50 and older need to know that CAM use is something that is important to discuss with their conventional medical providers.”

6/21/11 20:33 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.