Social sources of disparities in use of complementary and alternative medicine

Jennie Jacobs Kronenfeld, Stephanie L. Ayers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as a topic of research and as an approach within the health care delivery system has become increasingly accepted. Aided by the holistic movement, and after a century and a half of striving for legitimacy, CAM is also increasingly becoming more accepted by mainstream medicine. This chapter reviews the social sources of disparities in use of CAM, with a greater focus on English-speaking countries, and especially the US. This chapter will briefly highlight the basic underlying principles of CAM as linked to its history and discuss types of CAM. The major focus of this chapter will be a review of the literature on social factors and use of CAM, looking at such factors as age, gender, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity and immigration status, and health status. As part of this, we will also discuss the integration of CAM and conventional care. In conclusion, future directions for social science research in CAM will be discussed, specifically elaborating on the importance of the social sciences linking CAM with other growing interests in health and wellness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-107
Number of pages25
JournalResearch in the Sociology of Health Care
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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