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Open Access Research article

Pediatricians' attitudes, experience and referral patterns regarding complementary/alternative medicine: a national survey

Anju Sawni1* and Ronald Thomas2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Adolescent Medicine, Children's Hospital of Michigan, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI 48201-2119, USA

2 Children's Research Center of Michigan, Children's Hospital of Michigan, Wayne State University School of MedicineDetroit, MI, 4820-2119, USA

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2007, 7:18  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-7-18

Published: 4 June 2007

Abstract

Background

To assess pediatricians' attitudes toward & practice of Complementary/Alternative Medicine (CAM) including their knowledge, experience, & referral patterns for CAM therapies.

Methods

An anonymous, self-report, 27-item questionnaire was mailed nationally to fellows of the American Academy of Pediatrics in July 2004.

648 of 3500 pediatricians' surveyed responded (18%).

Results

The median age ranged from 46–59 yrs; 52% female, 81% Caucasian, 71% generalists, & 85% trained in the US. Over 96% of pediatricians' responding believed their patients were using CAM. Discussions of CAM use were initiated by the family (70%) & only 37% of pediatricians asked about CAM use as part of routine medical history. Majority (84%) said more CME courses should be offered on CAM and 71% said they would consider referring patients to CAM practitioners. Medical conditions referred for CAM included; chronic problems (headaches, pain management, asthma, backaches) (86%), diseases with no known cure (55.5%) or failure of conventional therapies (56%), behavioral problems (49%), & psychiatric disorders (47%). American born, US medical school graduates, general pediatricians, & pediatricians who ask/talk about CAM were most likely to believe their patients used CAM (P < 0.01).

Conclusion

Pediatricians' have a positive attitude towards CAM. Majority believe that their patients are using CAM, that asking about CAM should be part of routine medical history, would consider referring to a CAM practitioner and want more education on CAM.