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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Physician and patient attitudes towards complementary and alternative medicine in obstetrics and gynecology

Mandi L Furlow1, Divya A Patel2, Ananda Sen3 and J Rebecca Liu2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

3 Center for Statistical Consultation and Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2008, 8:35  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-35

Published: 26 June 2008



In the U.S., complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is most prevalent among reproductive age, educated women. We sought to determine general attitudes and approaches to CAM among obstetric and gynecology patients and physicians.


Obstetrician-gynecologist members of the American Medical Association in the state of Michigan and obstetric-gynecology patients at the University of Michigan were surveyed. Physician and patient attitudes and practices regarding CAM were characterized.


Surveys were obtained from 401 physicians and 483 patients. Physicians appeared to have a more positive attitude towards CAM as compared to patients, and most reported routinely endorsing, providing or referring patients for at least one CAM modality. The most commonly used CAM interventions by patients were divergent from those rated highest among physicians, and most patients did not consult with a health care provider prior to starting CAM.


Although obstetrics/gynecology physicians and patients have a positive attitude towards CAM, physician and patients' view of the most effective CAM therapies were incongruent. Obstetrician/gynecologists should routinely ask their patients about their use of CAM with the goal of providing responsible, evidence-based advice to optimize patient care.