People with lower educational levels and incomes are less likely to know about yoga, acupuncture, natural products and chiropractic medicine, according to a new study from San Francisco State University.
Studies on the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) have typically focused on learning more about who use these types of practices and why. Less is known about trends among those who do not partake, which inspired new research by Professor of Health Education Adam Burke, published in PLOS ONE on June 17.
“It’s very important to know why somebody is not doing a particular behavior,” said Burke, who is also the director of SF State’s Institute for Holistic Health Studies. “If your child isn’t eating broccoli and you want him to, you need to know why. If it’s just a matter of the pieces being too big, you can cut it up. But if you don’t know why, the child will not eat the broccoli.”
The research, based on the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, looked at data from more than 13,000 respondents who said they had never used acupuncture, chiropractic, natural products or yoga, four common CAM practices.
Lack of knowledge as a reason for non-use was strongly associated with lower education levels and income. Those who attended college were 58 percent less likely to indicate lack of knowledge as a reason for non-use, and individuals with higher incomes were 37 percent less likely.
“The implication of this study is that the lack of access to health knowledge is a root of health inequity,” Burke said. “If you are poor, you have less access to health information for a variety of reasons.”