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Recent analysis of data from a national survey shows that over one-point-six million American adults use some form of complementary and alternative medicine — also known as "CAM" — to treat insomnia or trouble sleeping.
Schmalfeldt: Recent analysis of data from a national survey shows that over one-point-six million American adults use some form of complementary and alternative medicine — also known as "CAM" — to treat insomnia or trouble sleeping. Scientists at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health studied the data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Nancy Pearson, an NCCAM program officer, talked about what kinds of therapies were most commonly used by folks who used CAM treatments.
Pearson: From this survey we found that two basic categories were most commonly used. And those are biologically based therapies — for example, herbal supplements. And the other category that we found most commonly used for insomnia from this survey were mind/body therapies. And that includes things like yoga, relaxation therapies and meditation.
Schmalfeldt: Dr. Pearson said people in the survey had a variety of reasons for using CAM therapies to treat insomnia and trouble sleeping.
Pearson: We did look at some of the motivational and behavioral reasons why they chose CAM therapies, and the most common was they thought it would be interesting to try. So it's a very general reason. But the second one really was to complement the conventional therapies they were using for insomnia. So this would actually be an example of complementary medicine.
Schmalfeldt: Dr. Pearson explained that large surveys like the National Health Interview Survey are important to NCCAM.
Pearson: The reason we analyzed the National Health Interview Survey was really to determine how many adults in the general U.S. population use CAM to treat insomnia or trouble sleeping. And to do this we really needed to put it in context, that is, we needed to know from this survey how many people have insomnia or trouble sleeping and who they are. And this kind of information is important for NCCAM because one of its main missions is to apply rigorous scientific methods to determine whether complementary and alternative medicine therapies already in the public domain are efficacious. And to be able to do this, we need to know what CAM therapies are being used for what specific disorders, and large surveys like this really allow us to capture that information.
Schmalfeldt: The 2002 survey included over 31-thousand U.S. adults aged 18 and older. In addition to looking at the data on CAM use and insomnia, researchers also determined that trouble sleeping was associated with such health conditions as hypertension, congestive heart failure, anxiety and depression, and obesity. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Nancy Pearson