Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Amish and Non-Amish Residents of Ohio Appalachia


  • Paul L Reiter University of North Carolina
  • Mira L Katz Ohio State University
  • Amy K Ferketich Ohio State University
  • Electra D Paskett Ohio State University
  • Steven K Clinton Ohio State University
  • Clara D Bloomfield Ohio State University



The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is common among many rural residents but little is known about its use among the Amish. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of CAM therapy use among an Amish community and compare it to a rural non-Amish population. Data were taken from a cancer-related lifestyle cross-sectional individual interview survey conducted among Amish and non-Amish residents of Ohio Appalachia. Amish adults (62 males, 72 females) were compared to non-Amish adults (64 males, 90 females) in terms of CAM therapy use and utilization of mainstream healthcare services. Prior use of any CAM therapy was highly prevalent among both Amish (males: 98%, female: 100%) and non-Amish (males: 89%, females: 98%) participants. CAM therapies for which the prevalence was significantly higher among Amish participants for both genders included chiropractic therapy (males: 84% vs. 61%, p=0.005; females: 90% vs. 57%, p<0.001) and reflexology (males: 35% vs. 5%, p<0.001; females: 53% vs. 13%, p<0.001). Few differences in the use of mainstream healthcare services were found between Amish and non-Amish participants. While CAM therapy use was widespread among both Amish and non-Amish participants, the Amish generally reported higher levels of prior use. These findings underscore the importance of physicians and nurses collecting information on CAM therapies when treating patients in this region, particularly Amish patients.