A factor analysis and exploration of attitudes and beliefs toward complementary and conventional medicine in veterans.
BACKGROUND: Although Veterans utilize complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) at rates comparable with civilians, little is known about Veterans' attitudes and beliefs toward CAM. Measures to increase such knowledge may help to identify treatment preferences, particularly among those with signature conditions from the recent conflicts [ie, traumatic brain injury (TBI), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)]. OBJECTIVE: This exploratory study aimed to: (1) determine the factors of the Complementary, Alternative, and Conventional Medicine Attitudes Scale (CACMAS); and to utilize the resulting factors to describe (2) attitudes and beliefs toward CAM; (3) their association with TBI, PTSD, and history of self-directed violence. Patterns of CAM use were also obtained. RESEARCH DESIGN: Factor analysis. Observational study. SUBJECTS: Participants were 97 Veterans seeking care at a Mountain State Veterans Affairs Medical Center. METHODS: Participants completed the CACMAS, clinical interviews, and self-report measures during a single visit. RESULTS: CACMAS factors identified were: acceptability of (1) CAM and (2) conventional medicine; (3) mind-body integration; and (4) belief in CAM. Acceptability of CAM was significantly associated with history of mild TBI (mTBI) or PTSD symptom severity. Veterans endorsed a wide range of CAM use. CONCLUSIONS: Veterans in this sample were open to CAM and conventional medicine, believed in CAM, and believed that treatments should incorporate the mind and body. Veterans with a history of mTBI or PTSD symptoms may be more accepting of CAM. Understanding Veterans' beliefs and attitudes regarding CAM may help providers deliver patient-centered treatments, particularly among those with conditions for which evidence-based interventions are limited (eg, mTBI).