Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use and expenditures are on the rise in the United States. Although civilian users of CAM have been well described, little is known about military veteran users of CAM.
To describe military veteran CAM users in the southwestern United States.
The study population comprised 508 military veterans randomly selected from Southern Arizona Veterans Administration Health Care System (Tucson) primary care patient lists, who had agreed to participate in a telephone interview. The χ2 test was used to analyze CAM use by demographic characteristics, military service, military-related health outcomes, and physician-diagnosed health complaints. Logistic regression was used to determine predictor variables.
Of the 508 subjects, 252 (49.6%) reported CAM use. Military veteran CAM users were significantly more likely to be non-Hispanic white, earn more than $50 000 per year (both P<.05), and have greater than 12 years of education (P<.01). Current high daily stress, perceived negative impact of military life on physical or mental health, and physician-diagnosed chronic illnesses (eg, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, and asthma) were statistically associated with CAM use. Regression analysis provided adjusted odds ratios and indicated that ethnicity (non-Hispanic white), higher education, greater current daily stress, and overseas military experience were significant predictors of CAM use by these veterans (each P<.05).
Ethnicity, education, income, and several chronic health complaints are consistent with civilian CAM use. Findings also suggest, however, that physicians providing conventional medical care need to be aware of experiences unique to CAM-using military veterans.