Complementary and alternative medicine behaviors and beliefs in urban adolescents with asthma

Sian Cotton, Christina M. Luberto, Michael S. Yi, Joel Tsevat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background/purpose. Up to 80% of adolescents with asthma have used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for symptom management. However, little is known about patient characteristics associated with CAM factors other than use. Previous studies recommend provider-patient discussion of CAM use, although few adolescents with asthma disclose their CAM use to their providers. To inform clinical interactions, this study examined prevalence and predictors of CAM use, consideration of use, disclosure of use, and perceived efficacy of use, in urban adolescents with asthma. Methods. Adolescents with asthma (N = 151) recruited from a children's hospital completed questionnaires addressing demographic and clinical variables and 10 CAM modalities. Response frequencies to four questions assessing CAM use, consideration of use, disclosure, and perceived efficacy were calculated for each modality. Multivariable logistic regression analyses examined characteristics associated with responses to each question for the two most commonly used CAM modalities. Results. Participants' mean age was 15.8 (SD = 1.8), 60% were female and 85% were African-American. Seventy-one percent reported using CAM for symptom management in the past month. Relaxation (64%) and prayer (61%) were the most frequently reported modalities and were perceived to be the most efficacious. Adolescents most commonly reported considering using relaxation (85%) and prayer (80%) for future symptom management. Participants were most likely to disclose their use of yoga (59%) and diet (57%), and least likely to disclose prayer (33%) and guided imagery (36%) to providers. In multivariable analyses, older adolescents (OR = 1.27, p < .05) and African-Americans (OR = 2.76, p < .05) were more likely to use relaxation. Adolescents with more frequent asthma symptoms (OR = 0.98, p < .05) were more likely to use prayer. African-Americans were more likely to report using prayer (OR = 3.47, p < .05) and consider using prayer (OR = 7.98, p < .01) in the future for symptom management. Conclusions. Many urban adolescents used and would consider using CAM, specifically relaxation and prayer, for asthma symptom management. African-Americans, older adolescents, and those with more frequent symptoms were more likely to use and/or consider using CAM. Providers caring for urban adolescents with asthma should discuss CAM with patients, particularly those identified as likely to use CAM. Future studies should examine relationships between CAM use and health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-538
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Asthma
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescents
  • asthma
  • complementary and alternative medicine
  • patient-provider
  • prayer
  • relaxation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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