The importance of wellness among users of complementary and alternative medicine: findings from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey

Background This study developed and tested a sociobehavioral wellness model of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to differentiate predisposing factors, enabling resources, need, and personal health practices according to use for wellness, for combined wellness and treatment, or for treatment alone. Methods Data were from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a cross-sectional, nationally representative sample of 23,393 adult Americans. This analysis included people who used at least one CAM modality in the past 12 months (n?=?7003 adult users). Prevalence estimates and multinomial logistic regression results were weighted and adjusted for complex sample design. Results Overall, 86 % of CAM users reported reason for use as wellness (51 %) or wellness combined with treatment (35 %). White women had the lowest (48 %) and Asian men (66 %) had the highest wellness use. Compared to treatment only users, wellness users were significantly more likely to be older, more educated, in better health, and engaged in multiple healthy behaviors. There was support that those with health conditions were using methods for both treatment and to maintain health. Conclusions The findings underscore the central role of CAM in health self-management and wellness lifestyle. At a time of national health care reform highlighting the importance of health and wellness and employers turning to wellness programs to improve worker performance and well-being, these findings suggest a central role of CAM in those public health endeavors.