National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)

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Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What People Aged 50 and Older Discuss With Their Health Care Providers


AARP commissioned SSRS, an independent research company, to conduct a telephone survey to assess the use of CAM among people 50 and older and the circumstances under which they discuss such use with their health care providers. Questions covered the following topics:

  • Whether respondents had used various types of CAM in the past 12 months or ever, and for what purposes
  • Whether they had discussed CAM with their health care providers
  • What they discussed or why they had not had a discussion
  • Who initiated the discussion
  • Their primary source of information about CAM
  • Their current use of prescription medications.

Interviews were conducted October 13–26, 2010, with a random sample of 1,013 people aged 50 and older. Responses were weighted to reflect the U.S. population of that age. The survey’s overall margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. The response rate for the survey was 11 percent. Where possible, comparisons were made with a similar study conducted in 2006 with 1,559 respondents aged 50 and older and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.48 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

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