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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Comparative survey of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) attitudes, use, and information-seeking behaviour among medical students, residents & faculty

Désirée A Lie* and John Boker

Author affiliations

Department of Family Medicine, University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine, Irvine, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Medical Education 2006, 6:58  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-6-58

Published: 9 December 2006

Abstract

Background

There is significant and growing national interest for introducing Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) instruction into allopathic medical education. We measured CAM attitudes, use, and information-seeking behaviors as a baseline to evaluate future planned CAM instruction.

Methods

Cross-sectional and longitudinal survey data on CAM attitudes, modality use, and common information resources was collected for (a) medical students (n = 355), (b) interns entering residencies in medical and surgical disciplines (n = 258), and (c) faculty from diverse health professions attending workshops on evidence-based CAM (n = 54). One student cohort was tracked longitudinally in their first, second and third years of training.

Results

Compared to medical students and interns, faculty who teach or intend to integrate CAM into their instruction had significantly (p < .0005) more positive attitudes and used CAM modalities significantly (p < .0005) more often. Medical students followed longitudinally showed no change in their already positive attitudes. The 3 survey groups did not differ on the total number of CAM information resources they used. Each group surveyed used about two out of the five common information sources listed, with the Internet and journals most frequently cited.

Conclusion

Students, interns and a selected faculty group demonstrate positive attitudes toward CAM and frequently use various CAM modalities. CAM instruction should therefore be focused on acquiring knowledge of available CAM modalities and skills to appraise evidence to appropriately advise patients on best approaches to CAM use. Trainees may benefit from exposure to a wider array of CAM information resources.