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Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults With Migraines/Severe Headaches

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(Headache 2011;51:1087‐1097)

Objective.— Our objective was to determine patterns, reasons for, and correlates of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by US adults with migraines/severe headaches.

Background.— While many patients with chronic conditions use CAM, little is known about CAM use by adults with migraines/severe headaches.

Methods.— We compared CAM use between adults with and without self‐reported migraines/severe headaches using the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (n = 23,393), a national cross‐sectional survey.

Results.— Adults with migraines/severe headaches used CAM more frequently than those without (49.5% vs 33.9%, P < .0001); differences persisted after adjustment (adjusted odds ratio = 1.29, 95% confidence interval [1.15, 1.45]). Mind–body therapies (eg, deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga) were used most commonly. More than 50% of adults with migraines/severe headaches reporting CAM use had not discussed it with their health care provider. Nonetheless, those with migraines/severe headaches used CAM more often than those without because of provider recommendation and because conventional treatments were perceived as ineffective or too costly. Correlates of CAM use among adults with migraines/severe headaches included anxiety, joint or low back pain, alcohol use, higher education, and living in the western USA. Only 4.5% of adults with migraines/severe headaches reported using CAM to specifically treat their migraines/severe headaches.

Conclusions.— CAM is used more often among adults with migraines/severe headaches than those without. However, few report using CAM to specifically treat migraines/severe headaches. Mind–body therapies are used most frequently. Further research is needed to understand the effectiveness and mechanisms of CAM treatments in adults with migraines/severe headaches.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: From the Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA (R.E. Wells); Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA (S.M. Bertisch, C. Buettner, R.S. Phillips, and E.P. McCarthy). 2: From the Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA (R.E. Wells); Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA (S.M. Bertisch, C. Buettner, R.S. Phillips, and E.P. McCarthy).

Publication date: July 1, 2011

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