Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by african american (AA) and caucasian american (CA) older adults in a rural setting: a descriptive, comparative study

Norma Cuellar1*, Teresa Aycock2, Bridgett Cahill3 and Julie Ford4

Author Affiliations

1 School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA

2 Regency Hospital, Meridian, MS, USA

3 Emergency Department, South Central Regional Medical Center, Laurel, MS, USA

4 Hattiesburg VA Clinic, Hattiesburg, MS, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2003, 3:8  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-3-8

Published: 18 November 2003



The use of CAM is at an all time high. There is very little research that compares the use of CAM in elders by ethnicity in rural settings. The purpose of the study was to determine if there was a difference between African American and Caucasian American rural elders on use of CAM and self-reported satisfaction with CAM.


The design was a descriptive, comparative study of 183 elders who reported the number of CAM used and satisfaction with CAM. A convenience sample was recruited through community service organizations in the state of Mississippi. The availability of elders through the support groups, sampling bias, subject effect, and self-report were limitations of the study.


The commonest examples of CAM used by rural elders were prayer, vitamins, exercise, meditation, herbs, chiropractic medicine, glucosamine, and music therapy. Significant findings on SES and marital status were calculated. Differences on ethnicity and demographic variables were significant for age, education, and the use of glucosamine.


Health care providers must be aware that elders are using CAM and are satisfied with their use. Identifying different uses of CAM by ethnicity is important for health care practitioners, impacting how health care is provided.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); older adult; rural