Prevalence and correlates of the use of complementary and alternative medicines among older adults with joint pain

Zhiqiang Wang, Graeme Jones, Leigh Blizzard, Dawn Aitken, Zhen Zhou, Mengmeng Wang, Saliu Balogun, Flavia Cicuttini, Benny Antony

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There is increasing use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) alone or as an adjuvant therapy to conventional medicines in osteoarthritis (OA) patients. Objectives: This study aimed to describe the prevalence and correlates of the use of CAMs among community-dwelling older adults. Methods: Data from the Tasmania Older Adult Cohort Study (TASOAC, n = 1099) were used to describe the prevalence of CAM use. Correlates of CAM use were assessed by comparing CAM users and non-users. To further assess correlates of CAM use, participants with at least one joint with pain were classified into four categories: CAM-only, analgesics-only, co-therapy, and “neither CAMs nor analgesics” (NCNA). Results: In all, 385 (35.0%) of our participants reported use of CAMs, among which vitamins/minerals were used most (22.6%, n = 232). Compared with CAM non-users, CAM users were more likely to be female, were less likely to be overweight, were better educated, had more joints with OA, had fewer WOMAC scores, and did more steps per day. Among participants with any joint pain, the CAM-only group were less likely to be overweight, consumed more alcohol, had higher quality of life, had more steps per day, and had fewer pain-related symptoms compared with the analgesic-only group. Conclusion: Complementary and alternative medicines were commonly used among Tasmanian older adults, with 35% of the population using CAMs either alone or in combination with conventional analgesics. CAM users were more likely to be female, be better educated, have more joints with OA, and had healthier lifestyles, including lower body mass index and higher number of steps per day.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1760-1769
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Rheumatic Diseases
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • complementary and alternative medicine
  • conventional analgesics
  • knee pain
  • MRI
  • older adults
  • osteoarthritis

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