While previous research has been limited, this appears to be a higher rate than occurs within the general population, said Gong-Soog Hong, co-author of the study and professor of consumer sciences at Ohio State University.
The study found that 71 percent of older adults used some form of alternative medicine in 2000. "The percentage of older adults who used alternative medicine was higher than I expected,” Hong said. "Many types of alternative medicine have not been tested for safety and effectiveness, and yet a large majority of older adults are using them. This tells us there is a serious need for more consumer education.”
The researchers used data from the 2000 Health and Retirement Survey, conducted by the University of Michigan and funded mainly by the National Institute on Aging. The survey included 848 respondents aged 50 and over.
The survey asked about the use of six types of alternative medicine: chiropractor, acupuncture, massage therapy, breathing exercises, herbal medicine, and meditation. The most commonly used form of alternative medicine was chiropractor, which about 43 percent of respondents had used. Acupuncture was the least used.
The findings showed Blacks, widows, and more religious people all tended to use alternative medicine more often than did other older adults. Respondents were more likely to use alternative medicine if they said they were in poor health and if they reported more problems with daily activities, such as carrying groceries, eating or bathing.
Of those who described their health as poor, 65 percent said they used some form of alternative medicine they considered preventive or curative - a higher percentage than among any other group.
"We need to know more about who is using alternative medicine and ensuring that they are educated about the medicines and therapies they are using,” Hong said.
MEDICA.de; Source: Ohio State University