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Relationship Between Falls and Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults


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Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment

J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Jan;23(1):41-44.


Amy Caron, William T Gallo, Laura L Durbin, Thelma J Mielenz


Objectives: The objective of this study was to examine the potential relationship between different forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use and falls among older adults in New York City (NYC).

Design: This cross-sectional study of data from the NYC Health Indicators Project survey used modified questionnaire items from several national surveys.

Settings: Participants were recruited from 56 senior centers located in the 5 boroughs of NYC.

Participants: There were 1273 participants aged 60 years or older included in the final analysis.

Outcome measures: Of particular interest to the researchers was a dichotomous outcome variable for falls, indicating that an individual had experienced no falls during the past year or one or more falls. Also of interest in the analyses were five CAM therapy types: alternative medical systems, biologically based therapies, manipulative and body-based therapies, mind-body therapies, and movement therapies.

Results: Prevalence of falls in NYC was 26.8%, which is consistent with the national average. Prevalence of CAM use was 92%. Participants who had tried manipulative and body-based therapies were more likely to report falling in the past 12 months (odds ratio, 1.65; 95% confidence interval, 1.26-2.15), after adjustment for age and sex. This observed association may reflect older adults with chronic pain who are already at risk for falling and are seeking therapy for this pain. None of the other CAM types were significantly associated with falls.

Conclusions: Because of the growing popularity of CAM use within this population, CAM practitioners should be included in falls prevention strategies. Particular attention should be taken to include practitioners who provide manipulative and body-based therapies (e.g., chiropractors, osteopaths, physical and massage therapists) because of the high risk for falls observed among individuals who use these therapies.

Publication Date: 

2017 Jan



Caron, A., Gallo, TW., Durbin, LL., Mielenz, JT. (2017) 'Relationship Between Falls and Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults ', J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Jan;23(1):41-44.

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