BACKGROUND: Recent investigations indicate that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use may be conducive to health behavior change. OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to investigate how this change occurs. METHODS: Using Social Cognitive Theory and Self-determination Theory as guiding frameworks, we surveyed a convenience sample of 216 CAM consumers abouttheir CAM therapy and iors and conducted focus groups with 36 CAM consumers. RESULTS: Consumers reported encouragement from providers and improved energy resulting from treatments as reasons for making health behavior changes. Multivariate analysis showed that increased odds of self-reported dietary change were significantly associated with increasing body awareness as a result of therapy, endorsing the statement that sustained improvement for their health conditions required self-care, using an acupuncturist, and being 44 years or younger. Comparable results were found for exercise change, except using an acupuncturist was a significant negative predictor and age was not significant. Focus group findings echoed these themes. CONCLUSION: This initial investigation into how CAM providers may play a role in health behavior change suggests that provider support, increased responsibility for one's health, and the CAM treatments themselves contribute to behavior change, although additional research in this area is warranted.
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