UMMS Affiliation

Center for Integrated Primary Care; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Behavioral Medicine | Health Communication | Health Psychology | Health Services Administration | Health Services Research | Information Literacy | Integrative Medicine | Race and Ethnicity


Little is known about the relationship between health literacy and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in low-income racially diverse patients. The authors conducted a secondary analysis of baseline data from 581 participants enrolled in the Re-Engineered Discharge clinical trial. The authors assessed sociodemographic characteristics, CAM use, and health literacy. They used bivariate and multivariate logistic regression to test the association of health literacy with four patterns of CAM use. Of the 581 participants, 50% reported using any CAM, 28% used provider-delivered CAM therapies, 27% used relaxation techniques, and 21% used herbal medicine. Of those with higher health literacy, 55% used CAM. Although there was no association between health literacy and CAM use for non-Hispanic Black participants, non-Hispanic White (OR = 3.68, 95% CI [1.27, 9.99]) and Hispanic/other race (OR = 3.40, 95% CI [1.46, 7.91]) participants were significantly more likely to use CAM if they had higher health literacy. For each racial/ethnic group, there were higher odds of using relaxation techniques among those with higher health literacy. Underserved hospitalized patients use CAM. Regardless of race, patients with high health literacy make greater use of relaxation techniques.


health literacy, complementary and alternative medicine, relaxation techniques, herbal medicine, underserved

Rights and Permissions

Copyright © Paula Gardiner, Suzanne Mitchell, Amanda C. Filippelli, Ekaterina Sadikova, Laura F. White, Michael K. Paasche-Orlow, and Brian W. Jack. This is an open access article distributed under the Supplemental Terms and Conditions for iOpenAccess articles published in Taylor & Francis journals, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

DOI of Published Version



J Health Commun. 2013;18 Suppl 1:290-7. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2013.830663. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of health communication


At the time of publication, Paula Gardiner was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID