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Complementary and alternative medicine among veterans and military personnel: a synthesis of population surveys.

Publication Status: Published

Sponsoring Organization: DoD agency, office, or organization other than the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Defense Health Agency

Sponsoring Office:

Congressionally Mandated: No

Funding Source: Agency, office or organization under authority of the Sec Def (not affiliated to Army, Navy, or Air Force)

Release Date/Publication:

Principle Investigator Status: Academia

Primary DoD Data Source: Other Survey

Secondary DoD Data Source:


BACKGROUND: Recent reports reinforce the widespread interest in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), not only among military personnel with combat-related disorders, but also among providers who are pressed to respond to patient demand for these therapies. However, an understanding of utilization of CAM therapies in this population is lacking.

OBJECTIVE: The goals of this study are to synthesize the content of self-report population surveys with information on use of CAM in military and veteran populations, assess gaps in knowledge, and suggest ways to address current limitations.

RESEARCH DESIGN: The research team conducted a literature review of population surveys to identify CAM definitions, whether military status was queried, the medical and psychological conditions queried, and each specific CAM question. Utilization estimates specific to military/veterans were summarized and limitations to knowledge was classified.

RESULTS: Seven surveys of CAM utilization were conducted with military/veteran groups. In addition, 7 household surveys queried military status, although there was no military/veteran subgroup analysis. Definition of CAM varied widely limiting cross-survey analysis. Among active duty and Reserve military, CAM use ranged between 37% and 46%. Survey estimates do not specify CAM use that is associated with a medical or behavioral health condition.

CONCLUSIONS: Comparisons between surveys are hampered due to variation in methodologies. Too little is known about reasons for using CAM and conditions for which it is used. Additional information could be drawn from current surveys with additional subgroup analysis, and future surveys of CAM should include military status variable.

PMID: 25397828 [PubMed - in process]


Davis MT, Mulvaney-Day N, Larson MJ, Hoover R, Mauch D. Complementary and alternative medicine among veterans and military personnel: a synthesis of population surveys. Med Care. 2014 Dec;52 Suppl 5:S83-90.

Last Updated: July 11, 2023
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