Use of and Attitudes Toward Complementary and Alternative Medicine Among Osteopathic Medical Students

Mehulkumar K. Kanadiya, MBBS, MPH; Guy Klein, DO; and Jay H. Shubrook, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: June 21, 2011

Accepted: March 23, 2012

Published: July 1, 2012

J Osteopath Med; 112(7): 437-446

Context: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has grown into a huge health care industry in the United States, with 91.5 million people (38% of adults) using CAM in 2007. Given the increase in CAM use and the need for CAM education for health professionals, it is important to understand the baseline attitudes and beliefs of osteopathic medical students regarding CAM, as well as the factors that may have formed them.

Objectives: (1) To determine osteopathic medical students’ use of different CAM modalities. (2) To assess osteopathic medical students’ attitudes toward CAM using a previously validated instrument.

Methods: A previously validated, 29-item Integrative Medicine Attitude Questionnaire and a 10-item CAM Health Belief Questionnaire were administered to osteopathic medical students. Demographic and other data were collected on student use of and recommendations for CAM modalities as well as student awareness and use of primary CAM information resources.

Results: Survey respondents were 635 osteopathic medical students from 7 osteopathic medical schools and additional locations in the United States. Osteopathic medical students demonstrated positive attitudes toward CAM use. A total of 527 osteopathic medical students (83.0%) self-reported the use of at least 1 CAM modality, whereas 69 students (10.9%) used just 1 CAM modality and 458 (72.1%) used 2 or more modalities. The most commonly used CAM modalities—meditation/yoga/relaxation/imagery, massage, and spirituality/prayer—were also most likely to be suggested to patients by osteopathic medical students. Sex, age, and the use of CAM modalities were significantly correlated with attitudes toward CAM modalities.

Conclusions: Osteopathic medical students had a positive attitude toward CAM and had high levels of self-reported CAM knowledge and use. Osteopathic medical students who acquire professional training and have personal experience with CAM may be in a better position to discuss CAM with future patients.

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