(BOSTON) -- If you use mind-body therapies as yoga, tai chi, meditation and deep-breathing exercises, you are among a growing number of Americans.
In 2007, 38 percent of people in the U.S. reported using complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM.
Rates of CAM use have increased since 2002, with mind-body therapies accounting for three quarters of the increase.
Now a first-of-its-kind study assesses the rate of alternative therapy referrals by conventional medical providers.
A survey in the Archives of Internal Medicine of over 23,000 U.S. adults finds that three percent of those surveyed were directed to meditation therapy by a health care provider. Projected to the rest of the population, that would suggest some 6.4 million Americans could -- in effect -- be getting "prescriptions for meditation" from conventional health care practitioners. That would still be many fewer than the estimated 34.8 million who seek meditation therapy on their own.
The survey did not ask what kind of health care provider directed the patients to mind-body therapy.
The authors suggest that providers treating sicker patients may offer these referrals as a last resort when conventional therapy doesn't work.
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