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December 20, 2002


Emory Physician To Study Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Patients

Bennett Lee, M.D., clinical instructor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Memorial Hospital, will soon begin conducting a study to examine the use of complementary and alternative healthcare among African-American patients at Grady Hospital. The study, scheduled to begin in January 2003, will survey 200 patients in the hospitalís general medical clinics to determine whether socioeconomic status, quality of life and spirituality play a vital role in patients seeking alternative healthcare.

The study, which is being funded by an Emory Medical Care Foundation grant, is an attempt to closer examine the reasons why African-American patients seek alternative and complementary medicine. Dr. Lee noted that national studies indicate that people who use alternative medicine are often white, better educated individuals with higher incomes. Although minority groups have been surveyed, those numbers have been relatively small.

"We would like to survey minority groups to see if we get the same sort of results as other researchers did from the Caucasian population, but also perhaps to discover the reasons for using alternative care that are different from the populations previously studied," Lee said.

According to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998, only 8 percent, or 160, of African-Americans were surveyed out of 2,000 participants in a 1997 national follow-up survey of trends in alternative medicine use in the United States. The survey, conducted by several researchers, including lead author David M. Eisenberg, M.D, with the Center for Alternative Medicine Research and Education, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Mass., concluded that 42.1 percent of people surveyed used at least one of 16 alternative therapies. The therapies included herbal medicine, massage, megavitamins, self-help groups, folk remedies, energy healing and homeopathy. Alternative therapies were used most frequently for chronic conditions, including back problems, anxiety, depression, and headaches.

The survey also concluded that alternative medicine users increased from 36.3 percent in 1990 to 46.3 percent in 1997.

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