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Medical Skepticism and Complementary Therapy Use among Older Rural African-Americans and Whites


Purpose. This study documents demographic, health, and complementary therapy (CT) correlates of medical skepticism among rural older adults. Methods. Older (≥65 years) African Americans and Whites in rural North Carolina (N=198) were interviewed. Medical skepticism was assessed using the four items from the Medical Expenditure Survey. Bivariate associations between medical skepticism and demographic and health characteristics and CT use were assessed, and independent effects on CT use. Findings. Positive responses to medical skepticism questions ranged from 19.7% (can overcome illness without help) to 59.6% (believes own behavior determines their health). Medical skepticism indicators were associated with few demographic and health characteristics, and one CT category. Conclusions. This study shows a high degree of medical skepticism among rural older adults, but limited associations with demographic and health characteristics and CT use. Further research is needed to understand relationships of attitudes towards conventional care and CT use in this population.