Date of Award

Winter 1-6-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Matt Hayat

Second Advisor

Ashli Owen-Smith


The use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has grown in popularity since the 1990’s. One possible explanation is the Western medicine’s inability to adequately treat pain and chronic diseases. Hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity each pose significant public health challenges, and effective treatment requires lifestyle modification. Meditation, by attenuating the body’s stress response, may positively impact a wide range of chronic health concerns. However, research on meditation has been mixed and is often criticized for methodological shortcomings. The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) most recently included questions about CAM in 2012. NHIS-based research describes differences in both CAM utilization and the prevalence of chronic health outcomes by region.

We conducted a secondary analysis of the 2012 NHIS data to test our hypothesis of a negative association between ever having meditated and select chronic health outcomes. Due to software limitations we conducted separate analyses to account for the complex sampling and multilevel data structure with clustering of observations by region. Hypertension and meditation were not associated in the weighted logistic (OR=1.05 (95%CI= (0.91, 1.22)] or the unweighted marginal (OR=1.00 95%CI= (0.85, 1.18)] adjusted models. High cholesterol was positively associated with ever having meditated in both the weighted logistic (OR=1.27, 95%CI= (1.11, 1.46)] and unweighted marginal (OR=1.23, 95%CI= (1.17, 1.28)] adjusted models. Diabetes was not associated with ever having meditated in the weighted adjusted logistic model (OR=0.81, 95%CI= (0.62, 1.07)]. However, a negative association with meditation was found in the unweighted adjusted marginal (OR=0.81, 95%CI= (0.70, 0.95)] model. The association of meditation with BMI was negative in all models.