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Complementary/Alternative Medicine: Comparing the Views of Medical Students With Students in Other Health Care Professions

Jessica Baugniet; Heather Boon; Truls Ostbye

OBJECTIVE: We compared the opinions, knowledge, and attitudes of final-year medical, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nursing, and pharmacy students about complementary/alternative medicine (CAM).

METHODS: A cross-sectional study questionnaire (n=442) was administered on site at the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto to fourth-year health professions students. Outcome measures were self-reported knowledge, attitude, and perceived usefulness of CAM therapies, the perceived importance of scientific inquiry for the acceptance of CAM, and educational exposure to the topic.

RESULTS: Educational exposure to CAM was correlated with the perceived usefulness of CAM. Medical students reported the least amount of education about CAM and viewed CAM therapies as less useful than did their health professions student peers. Medical students and pharmacy students were more likely than the other health professions students to view traditional scientific forms of evidence as necessary before accepting CAM therapies.

CONCLUSIONS: Perceptions differed among the different health professions student groups about the usefulness of CAM therapies and the kind of evidence needed before they should be incorporated into standard care. This may have important implications for multidisciplinary care.

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