Skip to main content
  • Poster presentation
  • Open access
  • Published:

P04.41. Prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine use in a community-based population in Korea: a systematic review


The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing in East Asian countries as well as in Western nations. However, information regarding the prevalence of the use of CAM in community-based populations is inconsistent and has not been systematically reviewed. This review examines the prevalence of CAM use in the Republic of Korea, focusing on (1) factors that possibly cause considerable variations in the reported prevalence, (2) the relationship between CAM use and the methodological qualities of surveys, and (3) socio-demographic factors associated with the use of CAM.


A systematic search of electronic databases (e.g., Medline, CINAHL, Kmbase, KoreaMed, KISS, KiSTi, NDSL and OASIS) was conducted based on a predefined search strategy and selection criteria. We included cross-sectional studies that examined the Korean population in community settings and presented the percentage of CAM use as the main outcome. Data collection and assessment of the methodological quality of the selected studies were conducted by three independent reviewers.


A total of 11 studies that met our selection criteria were identified. CAM use in Korea varied from 29% to 83%. Other important findings were as follows: (1) the scope of CAM use and the taxonomies used to describe CAM modalities were inconsistent across studies, (2) recall bias, lack of representative sampling strategies, and pilot testing comprised vulnerable areas of methodological risk, and (3) demographic factors most affected by CAM use in the Republic of Korea were female gender, higher education and age.


Researchers should conduct methodologically well-designed surveys of CAM use by utilizing critical quality components. The development of a specific definition of CAM and a classification of CAM modalities that reflect regional specificities are needed to conduct better comparative studies among multiple other countries.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Baek, S., Seo, H., Kim, S. et al. P04.41. Prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine use in a community-based population in Korea: a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med 12 (Suppl 1), P311 (2012).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: