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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2021, Vol. 19 ›› Issue (3): 282-290.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2021.03.001

• Medical Education • Previous Articles    

Consensus views on competencies and teaching methods for an interprofessional curriculum on complementary and integrative medicine: A Delphi study

Angelika Homberg a, Katja Krug a, Nadja Klafke a, Katharina Glassen a, Cornelia Mahler b, Svetla Loukanova a   

  1. a Department of General Practice and Health Services Research, University Hospital Heidelberg, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
    b Department of Nursing Science, University Hospital Tübingen, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
  • Received:2020-09-01 Accepted:2021-02-03 Online:2021-05-12 Published:2021-03-11
  • Contact: Angelika Homberg; E-mail address:

A collaborative team is necessary to help patients achieve their healthcare goals using complementary medicine. At present, healthcare professionals do not feel sufficiently qualified to provide this service. This study sought to identify competencies and teaching methods for interprofessional training on complementary and integrative medicine at medical schools.

Sixty-five German-speaking experts with various professional backgrounds were invited to take part in a three-round Delphi study. In the first round, predefined competencies were assessed on a seven-point Likert scale, and participants were invited to propose additional competencies that would be evaluated in the subsequent rounds. The competencies were ranked based on the participant assessments and were assigned to four relevance groups. In the second and third rounds, suitable teaching methods were identified using free-text fields and multiple-choice questions. In a final workshop, participants synthesized the outcomes of the previous sessions and derived key competencies that would be a benefit to undergraduate interprofessional training in complementary and integrative medicine at medical schools.

The three rounds plus final worksop were attended by 50, 40, 36 and 11 experts. The competencies that these experts determined to be highly relevant to teaching complementary and integrative medicine emphasized, in particular, the respectful treatment of patients and the importance of taking a medical history. From these highly relevant competencies, three key targets were agreed upon in the final workshop: students are able to 1) classify and assess complementary medical terms and methods; 2) work collaboratively and integrate patients into the interprofessional team; 3) involve patients and their relatives respectfully and empathetically in all healthcare processes. To achieve these competency goals, the following teaching methods were highlighted: students discuss therapy options based on authentic patient cases with each other and practice empathic patient communication incorporating complementary medicine. Further, the theoretical background of complementary medicines could be provided as online-training, to use the class sessions for hands-on exercises and interprofessional exchange and discussion.

Despite the heterogeneous panel of experts, a consensus was reached on the competency orientation and teaching approaches. The results can promote the implementation of interprofessional training for complementary medicine in undergraduate education.

Key words: Undergraduate education, Interprofessional education, Complementary medicine, Delphi Study, Curriculum, Competency

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