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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Knowledge and attitudes towards complementary and alternative medicine among medical students in Turkey

Hulya Akan1*, Guldal Izbirak1, Elif Çiğdem Kaspar2, Çiğdem Apaydin Kaya3, Serpil Aydin4, Nejat Demircan5, P Gamze Bucaktepe6, Cahit Özer7, Hüseyin A Sahin8 and Osman Hayran9

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine, Yeditepe University Faculty of Medicine, İnönü Mahallesi, Kayışdağı Cad., 26 Ağustos Yerleşimi, Kadıköy, İstanbul, 34755, Turkey

2 Department of Biostatistics, Yeditepe University Faculty of Medicine, İnönü Mahallesi, Kayışdağı Cad., 26 Ağustos Yerleşimi, Kadıköy, İstanbul, 34755, Turkey

3 Department of Family Medicine, Marmara University Medical Faculty, Mimar Sinan Cad. Kaynarca, Pendik, İstanbul, Turkey

4 Department of Family Medicine, Adnan Menderes University Faculty of Medicine, Aydin, Turkey

5 Department of Family Medicine, Zonguldak Karaelmas University Faculty of Medicine, Esenkoy-Kozlu, Zonguldak, 67600, Turkey

6 Department of Family Medicine, Dicle University Faculty of Medicine, Diyarbakir, Turkey

7 Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Mustafa Kemal University, Hatay, 31100, Turkey

8 Department of Family Medicine, Van Yüzüncü Yıl University Faculty of Medicine, Merkez Van, Turkey

9 Department of Public Health, Yeditepe University Faculty of Medicine, İnönü Mahallesi, Kayışdağı Cad., 26 Ağustos Yerleşimi, Kadıköy, İstanbul, 34755, Turkey

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:115  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-115

Published: 3 August 2012

Abstract

Objective

This study aims to examine knowledge and attitudes towards Complementary and Alternative Medicine among medical students in Turkey, and find out whether they want to be trained in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).

Methods

A cross-sectional study was carried out between October and December 2010 among medical students. Data were collected from a total of seven medical schools.

Findings

The study included 943 medical students. The most well known methods among the students were herbal treatment (81.2 %), acupuncture (80.8 %), hypnosis (78.8 %), body-based practices including massage (77 %) and meditation (65.2 %), respectively. Acupuncture, aromatherapy, herbal treatment and meditation were better known among female participants compared to males (p < 0.05). Females and first year students, generally had more positive attitudes. A larger proportion of female students compared to male students reported that a doctor should be knowledgeable about CAM (p = 0.001), and this knowledge would be helpful in their future professional lives (p = 0.015). Positive attitudes towards and willingness to receive training declined as the number of years spent in the faculty of medicine increased.

Conclusions

Majority of the medical students were familiar with the CAM methods widely used in Turkey, while most of them had positive attitudes towards CAM as well as willingness to receive training on the subject, and they were likely to recommend CAM methods to their patients in their future professional lives. With its gradual scientific development and increasing popularity, there appears a need for a coordinated policy in integrating CAM into the medical curriculum, by taking expectations of and feedback from medical students into consideration in setting educational standards.