Objective: To examine the relationships of race/ethnicity, menopausal status, health characteristics, and symptoms with use of 21 types of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in midlife women.
Design: Cross-sectional, multiple logistic regression analyses of 2,118 women completing the sixth annual visit in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation, a multisite, multiethnic, longitudinal study.
Results: More than half of women used some type of CAM. Use of most types of CAM differed significantly by race/ethnicity, except the use of ginkgo biloba and glucosamine. Significantly more African Americans at most sites and Chinese women used ginseng. Use of most types of CAM did not differ significantly by menopausal status or vasomotor symptoms, except the use of soy supplements, which was significantly greater among women who reported vasomotor symptoms. Women reporting somatic symptoms were significantly more likely to use glucosamine. Women reporting psychological symptoms were significantly more likely to use ginkgo biloba and soy supplements. The number of comorbidities, moderate or high socioeconomic status, number of healthy behaviors, symptom sensitivity, age, and dietary genistein intake were significantly positively associated with use of several types of CAM.
Conclusions: The use of most types of CAM is not related to menopausal status or symptom reporting but to sociodemographic factors, comorbidities, and health behaviors. Given the large proportion of midlife women who use CAM and the potential for interactions with prescribed medications, healthcare practitioners should inquire about CAM use and be aware of which factors influence the use of different types of CAM.
Data were analyzed from 2,118 women who completed the sixth annual visit in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN), a multisite, multiethnic, longitudinal study of midlife women. More than half of the women used some type of complementary and alternative medicine; use of most types of complementary and alternative medicine differed significantly by race/ethnicity, sociodemographic factors, comorbidities, and health behaviors but was largely unrelated to menopausal status or symptom reporting.
From the 1School of Medicine, University of California, Davis; 2College of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA; 3Geffen School of Medicine and 4School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles; 5Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, CA; and 6School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA.
Received June 27, 2006; revised and accepted October 31, 2006.
Funding/support: The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation has grant support from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, through the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Nursing Research, and the Office of Research on Women's Health (grants NR004061, AG012505, AG012535, AG012531, AG012539, AG012546, AG012553, AG012554, and AG012495). Additionally, the present work was supported by grant 5R21AT2229 from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Financial disclosure: None reported.
Address correspondence to: Ellen B. Gold, PhD, Department of Public Health Sciences, TB168, One Shields Avenue, University of California, Davis, CA 95616. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.