Objective. To examine the association between access to conventional health care and the use of St. John's wort among adults who report depressive symptoms. Study Design. Logistic secondary analysis of the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Supplement to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Study Population. Adults who report depressive symptoms and used St. John's wort (n = 246) were compared to nonusers with depressive symptoms (n = 5,111). Results. After controlling for various sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors, depressed adults who could not afford needed medical care due to cost were nearly two times (AOR 1.92, 95% CI 1.38-2.67) more likely to use St. John's wort than those who could afford conventional medical care. Higher income, education, and health status were also positively associated with the use of St. John's wort. Conclusion. The growing use of complementary and alternative therapies in the US is widely interpreted as evidence of changing consumer tastes and dissatisfaction with conventional medical treatment for chronic conditions like depression. However, the rising costs of conventional therapies and diminishing access to health insurance may also play a role.
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