In the largest national survey of its kind, researchers from UCLA and UC San Diego measured medical students' attitudes and beliefs about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and found that three-quarters of them felt conventional Western medicine would benefit by integrating more CAM therapies and ideas.
The findings will be published in the online issue of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM) on January 20, 2010.
"Complementary and alternative medicine is receiving increased attention in light of the global health crisis and the significant role of traditional medicine in meeting public health needs in developing countries," said study author Ryan Abbott, a researcher at the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine. "Integrating CAM into mainstream health care is now a global phenomenon, with policy makers at the highest levels endorsing the importance of a historically marginalized form of health care."
CAM, which includes therapies such as massage, yoga, herbal medicine and acupuncture, is characterized by a holistic and highly individualized approach to patient care. It's emphasis is on maximizing the body's inherent healing ability; getting patients involved as active participants in their own care; addressing the physical, mental and spiritual attributes of a disease; and preventive care. While interest in these fields has increased dramatically in the United States in recent years, information about such therapies has not yet been widely integrated into medical education.
"Even with the high prevalence of CAM use today, most physicians still know little about non-conventional forms of medicine," said study author Michael S. Goldstein, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and professor of Public Health and Sociology, UCLA. "Investigating medical students' attitudes and knowledge will help us assess whether this may change in the future."
The team of UCLA and UC San Diego experts in the fields of CAM, integrative medicine, Western medicine, medical education and survey development created a novel 30-question survey and sent it to 126 medical schools throughout the United States. In return, the team received 1,770 completed surveys from a pool of about 68,000 medical students nationwide, roughly three percent.
While the current results offer valuable insight into medical students' perceptions of CAM, given the low response rate, researchers plan future studies to further refine the tool and see if the findings can be more generalized.
Researchers found that although medical students endorsed the importance of complementary and alternative medicine, obstacles remain that may prevent future doctors from recommending these treatments in their practices. According to the findings:77 percent of participants agreed to some extent that patients whose doctors know about complementary and alternative medicine in addition to conventional medicine, benefit more than those whose doctors are only familiar with Western medicine.
49 percent of participating medical students indicated that they have used complementary and alternative treatments however few would recommend or use these treatments in their practice until more scientific assessment has occurred.
"Our research suggests that persuading doctors to integrate CAM will require investment in the types of clinical research that form the backbone of Western medicine," adds Abbott. "Even now, medical schools have the opportunity to train the next generation of medical practitioners in health care systems outside of conventional medicine. Core values of CAM can help students develop a more holistic and individualized approach to patient care."
The study also found that the further along in school the student was, the more likely they were to believe their learning regarding CAM therapies was sufficient. Still, researchers note that more than 60 percent of participants favored more education related to this field during their time in medical school. Although more than half of all U.S. medical schools currently offer some type of CAM course, researchers say these courses could be augmented or streamlined into more formal, standardized curricula.
"Although the content of integrative medicine programs remains controversial, medical schools across the country are moving forward with ambitious new programs to teach the next generation of health care leaders," said Dr. Ka Kit Hui, Wallis Annenberg Chair in Integrative East-West Medicine at UCLA, founder and director, UCLA Center for East-West Medicine, and chair, of UCLA's Collaborative Centers for Integrative Medicine. "Through the Collaborative Centers for Integrative Medicine, UCLA has become one of the nation's leading academic centers for integrative medical education. UCLA offers training programs for health sciences students and residents, as well as fellowships for clinicians and researchers."
Hui added that the importance of integrative medical education is increasingly being realized outside of UCLA. Forty-four highly esteemed academic medical centers now comprise the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, which was established to advance the principles and practices of integrative health care within academic institutions. It provides a community of support for academic missions and a collective voice for influencing change. The Consortium also helps disseminate evidence-based information on CAM, informs health care policy, and supports medical education.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Gerald Oppenheimer Family Foundation, and the Annenberg Foundation.
Additional authors include Ron D. Hays, Ph.D., UCLA professor of medicine and senior health scientist at RAND; Dr. Jess Mandel, associate professor and assistant dean of undergraduate medical education, UC San Diego; Babbi Winegarden, Ph.D., assistant dean, Educational Development and Evaluation, UC San Diego; Dale Glaser, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor, San Diego State University; and Laurence Brunton, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and medicine, UC San Diego.
Rachel Champeau | EurekAlert!
Why might reading make myopic?
18.07.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Tübingen
Unique brain 'fingerprint' can predict drug effectiveness
11.07.2018 | McGill University
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences
19.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences