Complementary health practices are an important element of health/healthcare seeking behavior among adults in the United States. Reasons for use include medical need, prevention and wellness promotion, and cultural relevance. Authors of a recent study thought there might be an association between lack of knowledge, lower educational attainment, and other key socioeconomic indicators as reasons not to use complementary health practices. In order to examine their hypothesis, they investigated reasons for not seeking four complementary health practices – chiropractic, natural products, acupuncture and yoga, for back pain. Best practice clinical guidelines for the management of back pain include several complementary health practices such as chiropractic, additionally Medicare provides coverage for chiropractic treatment.
Conclusions from the study show that lack of knowledge was found to affect use of common complementary health practices, regardless of the potentially motivating presence of back pain. Disparities in the utilization of complementary medicine, related to educational attainment and other socioeconomic factors, may negatively affect quality of care for many Americans. These results suggest that if individuals with health concerns, such as low back pain, knew about clinically appropriate complementary therapies they might use them. Creative approaches are needed to help reduce inequities in understanding and improve access to care for under-served populations.