Date of Award

Fall 1-5-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Matthew Hayat, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Dr. Ashli Owen-Smith, Ph.D.



The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has dramatically increased over the years since 1990. It is one of the fastest growing fields in healthcare and it is widely used today in the United States. Most people utilizing CAM approaches are seeking ways to improve overall health and well-being to relieve symptoms associated with body aches such as neck and back pain, stiffness, chronic illnesses, anxiety and depression, and side effects of conventional medicine. Symptoms of depression can lead to major depression, which is consequentially a major public health problem in the United States. In 2014, more than 1 out of 20 Americans have been reported to have moderate to high depressive symptoms. While depression is treatable with western medication, many have found that the use of mind and body approaches such as mediation, chiropractic/osteopathic manipulation, and yoga show great benefit in improving the cognitive symptoms of depression without medication side effects.


The objective of this study was to assess the association between the use of mind-body therapy and depressive symptoms. The analyses presented focus on determining whether mind-body therapy users are more or less likely to be depressed.


This study used a secondary and cross-sectional data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, a nationally representative household interview survey. The Adult Sample and the Adult Alternative datasets were used, and consisted of 34,525 participants. The sample was exclusive to adults ≥ 18 years of age. Analyses were conducted with 11,143 adults with depressive symptoms. The dependent variables were defined as self-reported response of emotional distress, the independent variable as Mind-Body Therapies users. SAS 9.4 was used to conduct descriptive, binomial, multinomial logistic regression analyses, and generalized linear mixed model. The level of significance of 0.05 was used to determine statistical significance.


In the weighted unadjusted model, the association between the use of at least one mind-body therapy and depressive symptoms was statistically significant, with an odd ratio of 1.51 and 95% CI (1.26, 1.81). The number of mind-body therapies used [OR= 1.13, 95% CI (1.09, 1.17)] and the most commonly used mind-body therapies [OR= 1.51, 95% CI (1.27. 1.81)] also yielded statistically significant association with depressive symptoms. In the weighted adjusted binomial logistic regression model, only the number of mind-body therapies used [OR=1.09, 95% CI (1.06, 1.18)] yielded a statistically significant association with depressive symptoms.


A negative association was found between the use of mind-body therapy and mental health among U.S. adults in all unadjusted models. Mind-body therapies users were found to be more depressed individuals. These results support the literature reviews that mind-body therapies users are more likely to be depressed.


Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Mind-Body Therapies; Mindfulness Intervention; Depressive Symptoms; Depression; Psychological distress; Mental Health; Mental Treatment; Multilevel Modeling; NHIS 2012