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The Avalanche of Baby Boomers Turning to Alternative Medicine

You may recall a study I posted late last year about the misguided reticence on the part of pediatricians to embrace alternative medicine techniques to help their patients even though more than third used them to improve their own health or knew a family member who did.

A new study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University speaks volumes for the acceptance of alternative medicine, at least among the baby-boomer generation. Nearly 71 percent of adults over age 50 used some kind of alternative medicine, such as acupuncture and herbal medicines, in 2000. To say the least, scientists were surprised about these findings, considering a 2002 study of all adults found a lower rate of acceptance (about 62 percent).

Some 850 patients were surveyed about their use of six types of alternative medicine: Chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy, breathing exercises, herbal medicine and meditation. Not surprisingly, chiropractic topped the list among respondents with 43 percent, and acupuncture scored the lowest.

Other interesting findings:

  • Sixty-five percent of those who described their health as poor said they used some form of alternative medicine they considered preventive or curative, a higher percentage than among any other group.
  • Almost the same number of patients who were not satisfied with their health care also tried alternative therapies classified as preventive or curative.
  • Baby boomers were more likely to use alternative medicine if they were in poor health and reported more problems with daily activities, such as carrying groceries, eating or bathing.
  • Blacks, widows and more religious people all tended to use alternative medicine more often than other older adults did.

You can bet I'll be looking forward to reading their study that will take a more comprehensive look at which alternative medicines people use most often.

Ohio State University, April 9, 2005

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