Use and Nondisclosure of Complementary Health Approaches among US Children with Developmental Disabilities

Olivia Lindly, Sheryl Thorburn, Katharine Zuckerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objectives: Many US children use complementary health approaches (CHAs), including some modalities that may be ineffective, unsafe, and/or costly. Yet, little is known about the prevalence and correlates of CHA use among children with developmental disabilities (DDs), as well as parent nondisclosure of CHAs used for children with DDs to health care providers. We, therefore, aimed to profile the use and nondisclosure of CHAs among US children with DDs. Methods: We analyzed data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, which included the most recent Child Complementary and Alternative Medicine Supplement. The study sample was comprised of 2141 children with DDs aged 4 to 17 years. Results: Nearly one-quarter (23%) of US children with DDs used CHAs. Among those with a personal health provider, 42% of parents did not disclose some or all CHAs used to the child's provider. The adjusted odds ratios of using CHAs were greater among those with female sex, higher household income, residences not in the South, difficulty accessing care, or comorbid conditions. CHA was most commonly used because "it is natural." Nondisclosure was associated with female sex, older age, having no functional limitations, less conventional services use, and use of fewer CHAs. The most common reason for nondisclosure was that the child's provider did not ask. Conclusion: Complementary health approach use is prevalent among US children with DDs, and nondisclosure is likely among those who use CHAs. Future intervention targeting education and communication about CHAs for parents of children with DDs and their health care providers may promote disclosure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-227
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Complementary Health Approaches
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Disclosure
  • National Health Interview Survey
  • Nondisclosure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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