Unconventional medicine in the United States

Author(s): Eisenberg DM, Kessler RC, Foster C, Norlock FE, Calkins DR, et al.

Abstract

Many people use unconventional therapies for health problems, but the extent of this use and the costs are not known. We conducted a national survey to determine the prevalence, costs, and patterns of use of unconventional therapies, such as acupuncture and chiropractic.

METHODS

We limited the therapies studied to 16 commonly used interventions neither taught widely in U.S. medical schools nor generally available in U.S. hospitals. We completed telephone interviews with 1539 adults (response rate, 67 percent) in a national sample of adults 18 years of age or older in 1990. We asked respondents to report any serious or bothersome medical conditions and details of their use of conventional medical services; we then inquired about their use of unconventional therapy.

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