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Delays in Seeking Conventional Medical Care and Complementary and Alternative Medicine Utilization

Keywords: Access/demand/utilization of services; biostatistical methods; medical decision making.

Objective: To test the association between delays in utilization of conventional medical care and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) utilization.

Data Source: The 2007 National Health Interview Survey, a cross-sectional nationally representative study of adults aged 18 years and older.

Study Design: Using zero-inflated regression models, delays in utilizing conventional care due to organizational inaccessibility are examined to determine whether delays are associated with both the decision to try CAM and the number of CAM types used.

Principal Findings: Individuals have significantly higher odds using provider-based CAM types if they delayed seeking conventional care due to organizational inaccessibility (OR = 1.63). Individuals use significantly more types of both provider-based (IRR = 1.35) and non-provider-based (IRR = 1.49) CAM if they delayed seeking conventional care due to organizational inaccessibility.

Conclusion: Individuals who delay seeking conventional medical care are more likely to use CAM and use more types of CAM. The current structure of the conventional health care system may have created barriers that can make conventional health care inaccessible. Individuals who face these barriers appear to be pushed not only into trying CAM but using a greater number of CAM types, a finding not in previous research.

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