Ask your patients about their use of complementary and alternative medicine

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Did you know that almost two-thirds of people aged 50 and older are using some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)? According to a recent survey* less than one-third of those people talk with their providers about CAM use.

* Survey by AARP and NCCAM

What is complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)?

CAM is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. CAM includes such products and practices as herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic manipulation, and acupuncture.


Why should I ask my patients about their CAM use?

**Barnes, P, Powell-Griner E, McFann K, Nahin R. CDC Advance Data Report #343.Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults:United States, 2002.May 27, 2004.


How can I find the time to discuss CAM with my patients?


With so little information available about most CAM therapies, what can I tell my patients?

Federal Resources for Providers

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

CAM on PubMed

Journal citations specific to CAM:

Online Continuing Education Series
Video lectures available for CME/CEU credits:

Resources for Patients

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine:
Toll-free clearinghouse: 1-888-644-6226

Medline Plus:


This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCAM has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCAM.

NCCAM Publication No. D349
Created: January 2007


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