Complementary Alternative Medicine in Asthma Use Varies Among Racial/Ethnic Groups

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Complementary alternative medicine use was associated with reductions in emergency department visits for asthma exacerbations.
Complementary alternative medicine use was associated with reductions in emergency department visits for asthma exacerbations.

This article is part of Pulmonology Advisor's coverage of the CHEST 2018 meeting, taking place in San Antonio, Texas. Our staff will report on medical research related to COPD, critical care medicine, and more conducted by experts in the field. Check back regularly for more news from CHEST 2018.


SAN ANTONIO — Differences in asthma control and use of complementary alternative medicine exist between ethnic/racial groups. Furthermore, complementary alternative medicine use is associated with reductions in emergency department visits for asthma exacerbations, according to research presented at the CHEST Annual Meeting, held October 6-10, 2018, in San Antonio, Texas.

Researchers sought to examine the relationship between the use of complementary alternative medicine (yoga, massage, homeopathy, herbals, and acupuncture) for asthma and asthma exacerbations by analyzing data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey. Eligible survey respondents had asthma and were ≥18 years (N=4387, 69.0% white, 13.4% black, 11.8% Hispanic, 3.0% Asian, and 2.8% other ethnicities). The researchers applied multivariable logistic regression to examine associations between the use of complementary alternative medicine and emergency department visits for asthma exacerbations across the whole population and among different ethnic/racial groups.

Of the 4387 eligible survey respondents with asthma, a higher percentage of Hispanics and blacks had emergency department visits for asthma exacerbation compared with white survey respondents (16.0% black, 10.2% Hispanic, and 6.1% white). Black and Hispanic respondents with asthma were less likely to use complementary alternative medicine than their white counterparts (23.7% black, 31.6% Hispanic, 40.2% white). After adjusting for gender, age, and having a healthcare provider, the researchers found complementary alternative medicine was associated with decreased odds of having an emergency department visit for and asthma exacerbation (odds ratio [OR] 0.59;95% CI, 0.43-0.83). In Hispanic patients with asthma, herbal use was particularly associated with decreased odds of visiting the emergency department for an asthma exacerbation (OR 0.20; 95% CI, 0.09-.044).

This study was the first to identify an association between the use of complementary alternative medicine and decreased emergency department visits for asthma exacerbations. It also identified the more widespread use of complementary alternative medicine in white patients with asthma than in patients of other ethnicities and races.

The investigators concluded that "[w]hile a component of the decreased hospitalizations associated with [complementary alternative medicine] use may be due to sociodemographic characteristics, it may also reflect other important psychosocial drivers of asthma control which if elucidated may improve medication adherence and healthcare resource utilization."

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Reference

Simonson J, Kim EJ, Jacome S, Conigliaro J, Hajizadeh N. Association between complementary alternative medicine use and emergency department visits for asthma exacerbation across the American population and among racial minority groups. Presented at: CHEST Annual Meeting; October 6-10, 2018; San Antonio, TX.