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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Knowledge and exposure to complementary and alternative medicine in paediatric doctors: a questionnaire survey

Simon Fountain-Polley1*, Grace Kawai2, Amanda Goldstein2 and Titus Ninan1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of General Paediatrics, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, Bordesley Green East, Birmingham, B9 5SS, UK

2 Birmingham Children's Hospital, Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham, B4 6 NH, UK

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2007, 7:38  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-7-38

Published: 29 November 2007



Complementary and alternative medicines are increasingly used by the general population. A survey was conducted to ascertain the knowledge of Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAMs) amongst paediatric physicians, and whether seniority increases the likelihood of its use being considered in consultations, or of families discussing it.


Anonymous survey of general paediatric doctors in a large inner-city district general hospital (DGH) and tertiary children's centre (TC) using a questionnaire. Statistical analysis was calculated using Minitab.


43/49 (88%) questionnaires were returned correctly. 13 (30%, CI 17 – 46%) doctors had personally used CAMs. 24 (56%, CI 40 – 71%) of their families had used CAMs. 13 (30%, CI 17 – 46%) had received formal CAMs education. 21 (49%, CI 40 – 71%) could name a total of 5 types of CAMs. Consultants were significantly more likely to ask about CAM use than middle-grades and juniors (p < 0.05, CI 48 – 93%, 35 – 90%, 8 – 33% respectively) and have had a clinical encounter where they felt it was significant. 32 (74%, CI 59 – 86%) of the clinicians had been asked about CAMs. 33 (77%, CI 61 – 88%) of doctors had successful CAM use reported to them, and 20 (47%, CI 31 – 62%) had failure of CAMs reported to them.


CAM use is relatively common in paediatric doctors and their families. They have received little formal CAMs education. Consultants were more likely than juniors to ask about CAM use and have had a clinical encounter where it played a significant part. Around half of all doctors irrespective of grade have been asked about CAMs in a clinical encounter.