Positive correlation between the use of complementary and alternative medicine and internal health locus of control


Because many people with chronic medical conditions use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), understanding their psychosocial characteristics may be useful for identifying effective interventions. The health locus of control (HLOC) measures the perception of controlling one's own health outcomes by various attributes. People with a high internal HLOC believe that the outcome of their own health seeking is related to their behavior or personal investment. Earlier evidence has shown that a higher internal HLOC is a predictive factor of positive treatment outcomes.


This study measured the correlation between the degree of CAM use and the level of HLOC.


An online cross-sectional survey was conducted via public bulletin boards and invitational e-mails. Data from 123 usable responses were analyzed for bivariate correlation between CAM use and HLOC. Subjective reports of various medical modalities were classified into six CAM domains and one conventional biomedicine domain. Subscales of HLOC included internal, chance, and powerful others. Chronic conditions, health status, and demographics were self-reported.


Internal HLOC significantly correlated with CAM use (Spearman's rho, P < .004) but not with conventional medicine use (Spearman's rho, P > .130). Further analysis of this correlation for those people with chronic conditions could not identify a particular domain used more by people with a high internal HLOC (P > .187), but the lesser use of conventional medicine was significant (P < .031).


Complementary and alternative medicine is either empowering or has empowered patients to use CAM. People who use CAM may have a better prognosis and better management of chronic conditions.

Principal investigator: 
Sasagawa M, Martzen MR, Kelleher WJ, Wenner CA.
Project period: 
Completed date (for sorting): 
Sunday, May 25, 2008