• alternative therapy;
  • complementary therapy use;
  • older adults;
  • rural health

Abstract Objective: Explore use, cost, and satisfaction with the quality and effectiveness of complementary therapy among older rural adults. Design: Descriptive survey. Sample: A random sample of 325 older adults from rural communities throughout Montana and North Dakota. Measurements: Participants were interviewed by telephone. Results: Only 57 participants (17.5%) had used complementary providers and most sought this care for chronic problems, heard about providers through word-of-mouth information, and were satisfied with the care. A total of 35.7%(116) used self-directed complementary practices and most used these practices for health promotion, heard about them through informal sources, and found them to be at least somewhat helpful. Of the 325 participants, 45.2%(147) used some form of complementary care, e.g., providers, self-directed practices, or both. Participants used as much complementary care as is found in national studies. Most spent relatively little out-of-pocket for complementary care. Conclusions: Understanding the health care choices that older rural residents make, including complementary health care, is paramount for a comprehensive approach to meeting their health care needs.