Patient Risk-Taking Attitude and the Use of Complementary and Alternative Medical Services

by Roland Sturm

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OBJECTIVES: Study users and nonusers of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) with respect to their attitude toward risk.

SETTINGS AND SUBJECTS: National household telephone survey fielded in the United States in 1998 (n = 9,585).

DEPENDENT VARIABLE: CAM use in previous year.

RESULTS: Patients of CAM practitioners consider themselves more likely to take risks than the average person (odds ratio [OR] 2.47, 95 confidence interval [CI] [1.91, 3.19] compared to the general population). Risk attitude is as strong (or even stronger) a predictor of visits to CAM providers than the main sociodemographic predictors of female gender, higher education, or middle age. Individuals using only self-administered CAM treatment rate themselves as being relatively more cautious (OR, 1.08; not statistically significant from the general population).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients of CAM practitioners perceive themselves as risk taking, whereas patients that only rely on self-administered CAM treatment rate themselves not differently from the general population. This major difference within the group of CAM users and compared to the general population has not been studied before.

Reprinted with permission from The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol. 6, No. 5, Oct. 2000, pp. 445-448. Copyright © 2000 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers.

Originally published in: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol. 6, No. 5, Oct. 2000, pp. 445-448.

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