When you need a health boost do you turn to your vitamins? A chiropractor? Or a session of yoga? The answer to that question may depend on where you live, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The study points to clear regional differences in American preferences for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies. If you live in the Pacific West or New England, you’re significantly more likely to use yoga as a preventive health strategy compared to the rest of the country. For those in the Midwest and Central America, chiropractors and osteopaths are your principle source of alternative care. And if you live in the South or East Coast, you’re less likely than the average American to seek any CAM therapy at all.
Researchers analyzed results from a supplement of the 2012 National Health Information Survey which evaluated CAM healthcare utilization in 34,525 adults. The participants were asked about their use of 18 different types of CAM therapies including massage therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, biofeedback therapy, meditation, yoga, and more. The U.S. national averages show:
- 8.5% of Americans reported seeing a chiropractor or osteopath in the previous year
- 8.4% practiced yoga
- 6.4% received massage therapy
- 17.9% of American adults used vitamins or non-minerals, double the percentage of the second and third most popular CAM therapies (chiropractic/osteopathy and yoga)
While the use of chiropractic has remained relatively stable since the 2007 CDC study on CAM usage, the percentage of Americans using yoga has nearly tripled (6.1% in 2007 compared to nearly 18% today). That was even after researchers revised the questionnaire in 2012 to reduce the possibility for false positives.
“Environmental and cultural factors unique to towns, regions, and economic factors have long been linked to differences in health behaviors and general health measures in the U.S. population,” the study authors wrote. It’s possible that CAM therapies may be more accepted and available near urban areas compared to rural regions.
Chiropractic usage could also vary according to age. A study published last year showed that chiropractic and massage therapies are among the most sought-after CAM therapies among older adults.
Regional Variations in Complementary Health Approaches by U.S. Adults. NCHS Data Brief. CDC. April 2014.
National Health Statistics Report. CDC. December 2008.