Physician Office Visits That Included Complementary Health Approaches in U.S. Adults: 2005-2015

Author: Remle Scott1, Richard L Nahin2, Barbara J Sussman2, Termeh Feinberg1
1 Kelly Government Solutions, Rockville, MD, USA.
2 National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
Conference/Journal: J Integr Complement Med
Date published: 2022 May 13
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1089/jicm.2021.0331. , Word Count: 305

Introduction: The Institute of Medicine has described the need for comparing models of care delivery involving complementary health approaches and conventional medical practitioners. As a step toward addressing this need, we used a nationally representative 11-year sample of office-based visits to physicians from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), to examine a comprehensive list of factors believed to be associated with visits where complementary health approaches were recommended or provided. Methods: NAMCS is a national health care survey designed to collect data on the provision and use of ambulatory medical care services provided by office-based physicians in the United States. Patient medical records were abstracted from a random sample of office-based physician visits. We examined several visit characteristics, including patient demographics, physician specialty, documented health conditions, and reasons for health visit. We ran chi-square analyses to test bivariate associations between visit factors and whether complementary health approaches were recommended or provided to guide development of logistic regression models. Results: Of the 550,114 office visits abstracted, 4.43% contained a report that complementary health approaches were ordered, supplied, administered, or continued. Among complementary health visits, 87% of patient charts mentioned nonvitamin nonmineral dietary supplements. The prevalence of complementary health visits significantly increased from 2% in 2005 to almost 8% in 2015. Returning patient status, survey year, physician specialty and degree, menopause, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal diagnoses were significantly associated with complementary health visits, as was seeking preventative care or care for a chronic problem. Conclusion: We present an overview of the first study of office-based physician visits where complementary health approaches were recommended or ordered to their patients. These data confirm the growing popularity of complementary health approaches in the United States, provide a baseline for further studies, and inform subsequent investigations of integrative health care.

Keywords: National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS); complementary therapies; herbal products; integrative health; national study.

PMID: 35559729 DOI: 10.1089/jicm.2021.0331