Americans Spend Billions on Complementary Care

By Shirley Archer, JD, MA
Dec 13, 2016

The market for services such as yoga therapy, meditation and other mind-body methods of complementary care, as well as complementary health products, continues to grow, according to survey data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Expenditures on Complementary Health Approaches: United States, 2012 (National Health Statistics Report, Number 95) was published in June 2016. The report noted that total out-of-pocket expenditures by approximately 59 million Americans were $30.2 billion. People spent about half that amount—$14.7 billion—on visits to practitioners like chiropractors, yoga instructors, acupuncturists or massage therapists. That is almost 30% of what Americans spent out of pocket on conventional doctors in that same year.

Yoga use has increased dramatically, while use of chiropractic care and massage therapy has tended to remain level, lead study author Richard L. Nahin, PhD, MPH, told Health Day news. “Yoga is going up because it’s more accepted in the culture and it’s being used for lifestyle changes and as a form of low-impact exercise.” He explained that while people use yoga to promote well-being, they are using chiropractic care and acupuncture as treatments for medical conditions, most often chronic pain.

“With so many Americans using and spending money on complementary health approaches, it is extremely important for us to provide the public with evidence-based information to help inform decisions,” said Josephine P. Briggs, MD, director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, in an NCCIH news release. “This underscores the importance of conducting rigorous research to know whether the products and practices being used are safe and effective.”

For the full report report, go to www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr095.pdf .

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Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at www.shirleyarcher.com.

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