Reports from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) indicate although individuals from different ethnic groups use CAM, the highest consumers include women, and individuals with higher educational achievement and income. Barner, Bohman, Brown & Richards (2010) conducted a review of the use of CAM by African Americans. The researchers conducted a cross-sectional analysis utilizing data obtained from the National Health Interview Survey of 2002. The sample size consisted of 16,113,651 participants ages 18 and over who had used CAM in the last 12 months. The researchers reviewed the following independent variables: predisposing (age, gender, and education), enabling (income, employment, and access to care), need (health status, physician visits, and prescription medication use) and disease-state factors (most prevalent conditions among African-Americans) that affects the type and choice of interventions. Their results indicated that at least 20% of the participants had used CAM in the last 12 months. CAM interventions of choice included alternative medical systems, manipulative and body-based therapies, biofeedback, and energy therapies. Prayer and folk remedies were amongst the most widely used. Folk remedies include traditional cures and herbs used to treat medical conditions. African Americans with higher socio-economic status tended to use CAM interventions for prevention as well as treatment. The results of this study are important for multiple reasons. The researchers found that African American used CAM to treat a specific medical condition and do not often disclose their use of CAM with their medical providers for lack of trust. It is important for medical practitioners to inquire about the use of all therapeutic interventions and their efficacy from the patient’s perspective. Researchers noted that African American women are more likely to use prayer. According to Freeman (2009) prayer is difficult to conceptualize and research. Theologians and researchers conceptualize prayer into distinct types. Prophetic, verbal, prayer can be used to either request a desired outcome or improve one’s relationship with God. The exact role of prayer was difficult to determine. Prayer can be used for treatment, as prevention, in conjunction with other treatments. These research findings are especially important for social worker to take into consideration. On an individual level, how do social workers incorporate discussions and the use of prayer in their practice with clients? How does the importance of prayer, as CAM intervention, affect the use or choice of faith-based practitioners in the field of mental health and substance abuse?
Barner, J. C., Bohman, T. M., Brown, C. M., & Richards, K. M. (2010). Use of complementary and alternative medicine for treatment among African-Americans: A multivariate analysis. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, 6(3), 196-208. doi: 10.1016/j.sapharm.2009.08.001
Freeman, L.W. (2009) Mosby's complementary & alternative medicine: A research-based approach (3rd ed.). Mosby
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2009). What is complementary and alternative Medicine? http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam/ (March 12, 2011)