Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Personal Preference or Low Cost Option?

Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Personal Preference or Low Cost Option?

José A. Pagán and Mark V. Pauly

From acupuncture to yoga, Americans’ use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is widespread and growing. The reasons that people give for using CAM are as diverse as the CAM therapies themselves: some perceive that conventional health care is ineffective, while others consider CAM to be more consistent with their own values and beliefs about health. As conventional health care costs rise, it is also possible that some people turn to CAM as a low cost alternative. This Issue Brief summarizes research that evaluates the relationship between CAM use and perceived access to conventional health care.