Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A survey of Canadian regulated complementary and alternative medicine schools about research, evidence-based health care and interprofessional training, as well as continuing education

Karine Toupin April1234* and Isabelle Gaboury56

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

2 Centre for Global Health, Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

3 Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

4 Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

5 Department of Family Medicine, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

6 Centre de recherche clinique Étienne-Lebel, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:374  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-374

Published: 28 December 2013



While some effort has been made to integrate complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) information in conventional biomedical training, it is unclear whether regulated Canadian CAM schools’ students are exposed to research activities and continuing education, or whether topics such as evidence-based health care and interprofessional collaboration (IPC) are covered during their training. Since these areas are valued by the biomedical training field, this may help to bridge the attitudinal and communication gaps between these different practices. The aim of this study was to describe the training offered in these areas and gather the perceptions of curriculum/program directors in regulated Canadian CAM schools.


A two-phase study consisting of an electronic survey and subsequent semi-structured telephone interviews was conducted with curriculum/program (C/P) directors in regulated Canadian CAM schools. Questions assessed the extent of the research, evidence-based health care, IPC training and continuing education, as well as the C/P directors’ perceptions about the training. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the schools’, curriculum’s and the C/P directors’ characteristics. Content analysis was conducted on the interview material.


Twenty-eight C/P directors replied to the electronic survey and 11 participated in the interviews, representing chiropractic, naturopathy, acupuncture and massage therapy schools. Canadian regulated CAM schools offered research and evidence-based health care training as well as opportunities for collaboration with biomedical peers and continuing education to a various extent (58% to 91%). Although directors were generally satisfied with the training offered at their school, they expressed a desire for improvements. They felt future CAM providers should understand research findings and be able to rely on high quality research and to communicate with conventional care providers as well as to engage in continuing education. Limited length of the curriculum was one of the barriers to such improvements.


These findings seem to reinforce the directors’ interest and the importance of integrating these topics in order to ensure best CAM practices and improve communication between CAM and conventional providers.

Complementary and alternative medicine; Continuing education; Curriculum development; Evidence-based health care training; Interprofessional training; Research training