Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is gaining popularity among patients with chronic back pain. We looked for factors associated with CAM use.
The data came from the cross-sectional household component of the 1996-1997 National Population Health Survey on the health status and behaviors of Canadians. The sample comprising 66.999 individuals aged 20 years or older represented 21 million adults. Cross tabulations were used to estimate the percentage of CAM use among adults with chronic back pain. Factors independently associated with CAM use during the year before the surveys were identified using multiple logistic regression.
CAM use was highest in the subgroup of Canadian adults reporting chronic back pain (39.07%). CAM use was associated with younger age, being married, having a higher level of education, and earning a higher income. Overall, the CAM users reported less pain, greater analgesic use, more depression, and more co-morbidities. In addition to CAM, these patients used conventional medical services.
Our results show that patients with chronic back pain who use CAM are more active, more involved in social life, and healthier, suggesting better management of their condition. They use CAM in addition to, rather than instead of, conventional care. CAM use in these patients may be ascribable to dissatisfaction with mainstream physicians.