Very little is known about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in Asian Americans (AA), especially on a national level. To compare CAM use, reasons for use, and disclosure rates between Asian and non-Hispanic white Americans (NHW), and examine ethnic variations among AA. Data on CAM use in the past year (excluding prayer) were used from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey for 917 AA and 20,442 NHW. Compared with NHW, AA were as likely to use any CAM modality [42 vs. 38%; adjusted prevalence ratio = 1.09, 95% confidence interval (0.94, 1.27)]. Asian Americans were less likely than NHW to disclose the use of herbal medicines (16 vs. 34%, p < 0.001) and mind/body therapies (15 vs. 25%, p < 0.05). Mind/body therapies were used more often by Asian Indians (31%) than by Chinese (21%) and Filipinos (22%), whereas herbal medicines were used more often by Chinese (32%) than by Filipinos (26%) and Asian Indians (19%). Among AA, CAM use was associated with being female, having higher education, and having a chronic medical condition; foreign-birth was not associated with CAM use. Complementary and alternative medicine use is common among AA, and there are important ethnic variations in use. Asian Americans are less likely than NHW to disclose CAM use to conventional healthcare providers, suggesting that it is particularly important that physicians query AA patients about CAM use.
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