Use of Mind-Body Medicine and Improved Self-Rated Health: Results from a National Survey

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Long T. Nguyen
Roger B Davis
Ted J Kaptchuk
Russell S Phillips


Background:  Among the 20% of US adults who use mind-body (MB) medicine, half also use other types of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Our prior work showed that CAM use is associated with better self-reported health.  However, little is known about the association between the use of MB therapies and perceptions of health.Objective: To determine the association between the use of mind-body therapies and self-rated health.Design: We analyzed cross-sectional data from the 2007 US National Health Interview Survey (n=23,393). We partitioned the CAM-user respondents into 3 mutually exclusive groups:  1. MB-only, 2. Both MB and Non-MB-CAM (MB-Plus) and 3. Non-MB-CAM only. We used multivariable logistic regression to model the likelihoods of respondents’ reporting ‘Excellent’ health and reporting ‘Better’ health than the prior year. We controlled for socio-demographic, clinical and behavioral confounders and evaluated the models.Results: 8% of U.S. adults used MB-Only, 18% used non-MB-CAM and 10% used both. Compared to users of Non-MB-CAM, users of MB-Only (adjusted-OR=1.13,95%CI=[0.96,1.33]) and MB-Plus (adjusted-OR=1.09,95%CI=[0.94,1.26]) were not significantly more likely to report ‘Excellent health’. However, compared to users of Non-MB-CAM, users of MB-Plus were more likely (adjusted-OR=1.48,95%CI=[1.28,1.71]) to report ‘Better’ health over the prior year while users of MB alone were not.Conclusion: Respondents who used MB in addition to other CAM therapies were significantly more likely to report improvement in self-rated health over the prior year. Large prospective trials are needed to establish whether MB therapies, used as an adjunctive treatment with other CAM, will lead to improvement in health.

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