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The goal of this study was to compare pediatric complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use and pediatric health care provider CAM referral as well as identify predictors of use and referral.


Surveys were administered to 283 parents/caregivers of pediatric patients and 200 pediatric health care providers (HCP).


This study took place at the Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC Children's) in Orange, CA.

Main outcome measures

Caregivers and HCP were provided a list of 32 CAM interventions and asked to indicate which treatments their child had ever used or which they would consider using for their child and which treatments they had ever referred or which they would consider referring, respectively. The main outcome variables were the number and type of CAM therapies endorsed by participants.


Providers referred the majority of CAM therapies significantly more often than patients used each therapy and more often than caregivers would consider each therapy for their child. In addition, children from families with higher incomes, whose parents were older and had more education, who were White, and whose primary language spoken at home was English were more likely to use CAM therapies, all p's < 0.05. HCP CAM referral was not significantly predicted by number of years a health care provider practiced or health care profession, all p's < 0.05.


HCP referred CAM therapies more often than parents reported use for their children. Findings may imply that parents/caregivers are underutilizing CAM therapies for their children. Potential barriers to CAM use in pediatric patients needs to be explored.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Complementary Therapies in Medicine. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, volume 23, issue 3, in 2015.

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