Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use in Musculoskeletal Disorders: Does Medical Skepticism Matter? Alternate Title: Musculoskeletal Disorders

Elizabeth K Wiley-Exley1, Thelma J Mielenz2, Edward C Norton3, Leigh F Callahan*, 4
1 Department of Health Policy and Administration, University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Public Health, USA
2 Division of Physical Therapy; Thurston Arthritis Research Center, UNC School of Medicine, USA
3 Department of Health Policy and Administration, UNC School of Public Health, USA
4 Thurston Arthritis Research Center, UNC School of Medicine, USA

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2007 Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Thurston Arthritis Research Center, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB# 7280, 3300 Thurston Building, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7280, USA; Tel: 1-866-TARC-UNC; Fax: (919) 966-1739; E-mail:


Medical skepticism is the reservation about the ability of conventional medical care to significantly improve health. Individuals with musculoskeletal disorders seeing specialists usually experience higher levels of disability; therefore it is expected they might be more skeptical of current treatment and thus more likely to try Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). The goal of this study was to define these relationships. These data were drawn from a cross-sectional survey from two cohorts: those seeing specialists (n=1,344) and non-specialists (n=724). Site-level fixed effects logistic regression models were used to test associations between medical skepticism and 10 CAM use categories. Some form of CAM was used by 88% of the sample. Increased skepticism was associated with one CAM category for the non-specialist group and six categories for the specialist group. Increased medical skepticism is associated with CAM use, but medical skepticism is more often associated with CAM use for those seeing specialists.

Keywords: Medical skepticism, complementary and alternative medicine, musculoskeletal disorders.