An analysis of data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that people who take natural products (dietary supplements other than vitamins and minerals) or who practice yoga were more likely to do so for wellness reasons than for treating a specific health condition. In contrast, people who use spinal manipulation more often do so for treatment reasons rather than wellness. This analysis, which uses the most comprehensive, nationally representative data available describing wellness-related reasons and self-reported health outcomes for adults using complementary health approaches, was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and was published in a recent National Health Statistics Report by the National Center for Health Statistics.
The NHIS is an annual study in which tens of thousands of Americans are interviewed about their health- and illness-related experiences. The 2012 NHIS asked participants about their use of complementary health approaches and whether they used them to treat a specific health condition or for any of five wellness-related reasons. They were also asked whether this use led to any of nine desirable health-related outcomes. The survey results are based on data from 34,525 adults aged 18 and older.
The analysis provides estimates of selected wellness-related reasons for and outcomes from the use of three complementary health approaches: nonvitamin, nonmineral dietary supplements; yoga; and spinal manipulation. Among the findings from the analysis were:
- “General wellness or disease prevention” was the most common wellness-related reason for use of each of the three approaches.
- More than two-thirds of users of all three health approaches reported that their use improved their overall health and made them feel better.
- Yoga users reported higher rates of all the self-reported wellness-related health outcomes than users of dietary supplements or spinal manipulation.
- More than 80 percent of yoga users perceived reduced stress as a result of practicing yoga.
- Nearly two-thirds of yoga users reported that as a result of practicing yoga they were motivated to exercise more regularly, and 4 in 10 reported they were motivated to eat healthier.
- Yoga users were more likely to affirm feeling better emotionally than users of dietary supplements or spinal manipulation as a result of using that approach.
- Although dietary supplement users were twice as likely to report wellness rather than treatment as a reason for taking supplements, fewer than 1 in 4 reported reduced stress, better sleep, or feeling better emotionally as a result of using dietary supplements.
- More than 60 percent of those using spinal manipulation reported doing so to treat a specific health condition, and more than 50 percent did so for general wellness-related reasons.
Findings from this analysis add to the research documenting the potential for complementary health approaches to promote positive changes in health behavior.
- Stussman BJ, Black LI, Barnes PM, Clarke TC, Nahin RL. Wellness-related use of common complementary health approaches among adults: United States, 2012. National health statistics reports; no 85. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2015. [402KB PDF]