Discrimination; Complementary Medicine; Race/Ethnicity; Nativity; Trust


Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Health Services Research | Immune System Diseases | Public Health | Virus Diseases


This study examines the relationship between racial/ethnic discrimination in medical settings, distrust in conventional medicine, and attitudes toward complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among a racially/ethnically diverse sample. We also investigate how this relationship differs by nativity. Data are from a 2008 statewide stratified sample of publicly insured adults in Minnesota (N=2,194). Discrimination was measured as self-reported unfair treatment in medical settings due to race, ethnicity, and/or nationality. Outcomes are trust in conventional providers/medicine and attitudes toward CAM modalities. Discrimination in medical settings was positively associated with 1) distrust in conventional providers and 2) favorable attitudes toward CAM. Foreign-born status was associated with more distrust in conventional providers/medicine and more positive attitudes toward CAM. Our findings show that for publicly insured, and especially minority and foreign-born individuals, CAM may represent a response to disenfranchisement in conventional medical settings and resulting distrust.