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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2015, Vol. 13 ›› Issue (6): 412-415.doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(15)60206-0

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Attitudes of medical students toward the practice and teaching of integrative medicine

Gerard Flaherty, Jenny Fitzgibbon, Peter Cantillon   

  1. School of Medicine, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
  • Received:2015-05-07 Accepted:2015-07-13 Online:2015-11-10 Published:2015-11-15

The General Medical Council encourages the integration of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) teaching into basic medical education. We wished to explore the attitudes of medical students to CAM and its inclusion in their undergraduate curriculum. Medical students were invited to complete the validated Integrative Medicine Attitude Questionnaire (IMAQ) and to state whether they considered it appropriate for them to learn about CAM in medical school. The questionnaire was completed by 308 students (65.8% response rate). CAM had been received by a majority of respondents and their families. Participants believed that doctors with knowledge of CAM provide better patient care and that it is desirable for physicians to exploit the placebo effect. Most students expressed the view that doctors should be able to answer patients’ questions about herbal medicines. There was a belief that patients should be warned to avoid using supplements which have not undergone rigorous testing. Students who were current or previous users of CAM or whose family members used CAM had higher total IMAQ scores and openness subscale scores than those who did not report use of CAM. Two-hundred and nine (68%) students expressed a desire to study CAM as part of their medical curriculum. This study reveals a positive attitude towards a holistic approach to patient care which embraces CAM. Medical students believe that integrative medicine should be taught in medical school.

Key words: Attitude of health personnel, Students, Medical, Complementary therapies, Education

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