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National Survey Reports on CAM Use by Adults and Children


The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is an annual survey of Americans' health- and illness-related experience. In 2007, an NHIS supplement gathered information on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among 23,393 adults and 9,417 children. The supplement was developed by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the National Center for Health Statistics.

The 2007 NHIS found that approximately 38 percent of adults and 12 percent of children use some form of CAM. Among both adults and children, the most commonly used CAM therapy is nonvitamin/nonmineral natural products; fish oil/omega 3 is the most popular natural product for adults, while echinacea is the most popular for children. Back pain is by far the most common condition prompting adults to use CAM. Among children, back or neck pain is the most common reason for using CAM, followed closely by head/chest colds.

The 2002 NHIS also included a supplement on CAM use by adults. Overall usage among adults in 2002 (36 percent) was about the same as in 2007. Since 2002, usage has increased for some therapies, including deep breathing, meditation, massage, and yoga. Adult use of CAM for head/chest colds showed a marked decrease between 2002 and 2007. The 2007 survey was the first to ask about CAM use by children.


  • Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin R. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007.
Publication Date: 
December 10, 2008

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This page last modified February 02, 2015