Factors associated with pediatric use of complementary and alternative medicine

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 Psychology | Integrative Medicine | Pediatrics | Psychiatry and Psychology


BACKGROUND: Limited data are available on the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and factors associated with use among the pediatric population in the United States.

METHODS: Using the 2007 National Health Interview Survey data among individuals < 18 years of age (n = 9417), we compared CAM users (excluding those using vitamins and minerals) and non-CAM users. Using bivariable and multivariable logistic regression models, we examined independent associations of CAM use with sociodemographic factors, prescription medication use, delays in health care caused by access difficulties, and common medical conditions/symptoms.

RESULTS: In an adjusted multivariable logistic model, CAM users were more likely than non-CAM users to be adolescents rather than infants or toddlers (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 1.61 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.11-2.34]); live in the West (aOR: 2.05 [95% CI: 1.62-2.59]), Northeast (aOR: 1.36 [95% CI: 1.02-1.80]), or Midwest (aOR: 1.35 [95% CI: 1.04-1.74]) compared with those in the South; more likely to have a parent with a college education (aOR: 4.33 [95% CI: 2.92-6.42]); and more likely to use prescription medication (aOR: 1.51 [95% CI: 1.19-1.92]). Pediatric CAM users were more likely to have anxiety or stress (aOR: 2.54 [95% CI: 1.89-3.42]), dermatologic conditions (aOR: 1.35 [95% CI: 1.03-1.78]), musculoskeletal conditions (aOR: 1.94 [95% CI: 1.31-2.87]), and sinusitis (aOR: 1.54 [95% CI: 1.11-2.14]). Use of CAM by a parent was strongly associated with the child's use of CAM (aOR: 3.83 [95% CI: 3.04-4.84]).

CONCLUSIONS: In 2007, pediatric CAM users were more likely to take prescription medications, have a parent who used CAM, and have chronic conditions such as anxiety or stress, musculoskeletal conditions, dermatologic conditions, or sinusitis. Research is required to guide pediatricians in making recommendations on CAM modalities for children including potential risks and/or benefits and interactions with conventional therapies.


complementary therapies, infant, child, adolescent

DOI of Published Version



Pediatrics. 2010 Feb;125(2):249-56. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-1406. Epub 2010 Jan 25. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title



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

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Link to Article in PubMed

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