Search JIM Advanced Search

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

• Short Report • Previous Articles     Next Articles

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

[1] Kligler B, Maizes V, Schachter S, Park C, Gaudet T, Benn R, Lee R, Remen RN ; Education Working Group. Core competencies in integrative medicine for medical school curricula: a proposal. Acad Med, 2004,79(6):521-531
doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2008.06537.x pmid: 15165971
[2] Zollman C, Vickers AJ, Richardson J . ABC of complementary medicine. New York: John Wiley and Sons. 2009.
[3] Wolsko P, Ware L, Kutner J, Lin C, Albertson G, Cyran L, Schilling L, Anderson RJ . Alternative/complementary medicine: wider usage than generally appreciated. J Altern Complement Med, 2000,6(4):321-326
doi: 10.1089/10755530050120682 pmid: 10976978
[4] Pearson NJ, Chesney MA . The CAM education program of the national center for complementary and alternative medicine: an overview. Acad Med, 2007,82(10):921-926
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31814a5014
[5] Fox E . Predominance of the curative model of medical care: a residual problem. JAMA, 1997,278(9):761-763
doi: 10.1001/jama.1997.03550090085038
[6] Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin RL . Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007. Natl Health Stat Report, 2008,( 12):1-23
[7] Xue CCL, Zhang AL, Lin V, Da Costa C, Story DF . Complementary and alternative medicine use in Australia: a national population-based survey. J Altern Complement Med, 2007,13(6):643-650
doi: 10.1089/acm.2006.6355 pmid: 17718647
[8] Kim JH, Lee JB, Lee DC . Validation of the Korean Integrative Medicine Attitude Questionnaire(IMAQ). Korean J Fam Med, 2011,32(3):197-204
doi: 10.4082/kjfm.2011.32.3.197 pmid: 3383128
[9] Schmidt K, Rees C, Greenfield S, Wearn AM, Dennis I, Patil NG, Amri H, Boon H . Multischool, international survey of medical students’ attitudes toward “holism”. Acad Med, 2005,80(10):955-963
doi: 10.1097/00001888-200510000-00017 pmid: 16186617
[10] Schneider CD, Meek PM, Bell IR . Development and validation of IMAQ: integrative medicine attitude questionnaire. BMC Med Educ, 2003,3: 5
doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-3-5 pmid: 200993
[11] Gaster B, Unterboen JN, Scott RB, Schneeweiss R . What should students learn about complementary and alternative medicine? Acad Med. 2007; 82(10):934-938.
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318149eb56 pmid: 17895651
[12] Furnham A, Hanna D, Vincent CA . Medical students’ attitudes to complementary medical therapies. Complement Ther Med, 1995,3(4):212-219
doi: 10.1016/S0965-2299(95)80074-3
[13] Greiner KA, Murray JL, Kallail KJ . Medical student interest in alternative medicine. J Altern Complement Ther, 2000,6(3):231-234
doi: 10.1089/acm.2000.6.231 pmid: 10890331
[14] Shankar PR, Subish P, Das B, Dubey AK, Upadhyay DK . Student attitude towards integrative medicine in a medical college in Western Nepal: a questionnaire-based study. JAAIM-Online. 2006; Jun.
[15] Rees CE, Wearn AM, Dennis I, Amri H, Greenfield SM . Medical students’ attitudes to complementary and alternative medicine: further validation of the IMAQ and findings from an international longitudinal study. Med Teach, 2009,31(2):125-132
doi: 10.1080/01421590802139724
[16] General Medical Council. Tomorrow’s doctors; recommendations on undergraduate medical education.[ 2015-02-13]. .
[17] Battacharya B . M.D. programs in the United States with complementary and alternative medical education opportunities: an ongoing listing. J Altern Complement Med, 2000,6(1):77-90
doi: 10.1089/acm.2000.6.77
[18] Eisenberg DM . Advising patients who seek alternative medical therapies. Ann Intern Med, 1997,127(1):61-69
doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-128-4-199802150-00049 pmid: 9214254
[1] Seung-hoon Choi. A digital application for implementing the ICD-11 traditional medicine chapter. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2020, 18(6): 455-458.
[2] Jonathan M. Fields. Dangers of scientific bias against herbal drugs for coronavirus disease 2019. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2020, 18(6): 459-461.
[3] Luciana Aikawa, Alexandre Massao Yoshizumi, Mirian Matsura Shirassu, Marcia Kiyomi Koike. Rapid acupuncture for musculoskeletal pain in the emergency room of the Hospital Servidor Publico Estadual, Brazil: A quasi-experimental study. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2020, 18(4): 313-318.
[4] Giles Gyer, Jimmy Michael, James Inklebarger, Jaya Shanker Tedla. Spinal manipulation therapy: Is it all about the brain? A current review of the neurophysiological effects of manipulation. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(5): 328-337.
[5] Lena Grönblom Lundström, Ulrika Aasa, Yan Zhang, Tobias Sundberg. Health care in light of different theories of health—A proposed framework for integrating a social humanistic perspective into health care. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(5): 321-327.
[6] Mohammad Hossein Ayati, Ata Pourabbasi, Nazli Namazi, Arman Zargaran, Zahra Kheiry, Amir Hooman Kazemi, Bagher Larijani. The necessity for integrating traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine into medical education curricula in Iran. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(4): 296-301.
[7] Richard A. Stein, Kira Schmid, Jowell Bolivar, Andrew G. Swick, Steven V. Joyal, Steven P. Hirsh . Kaempferia parviflora ethanol extract improves self-assessed sexual health in men: A pilot study. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(4): 249-254.
[8] Giles Gyer, Jimmy Michael, James Inklebarger. Occupational hand injuries: A current review of the prevalence and proposed prevention strategies for physical therapists and similar healthcare professionals. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(2): 84-89.
[9] Katy Andrade Monteiro Zacaron, Nélia da Silva Mendes, Yuri Cotta e Silva, Giancarlo Lucchetti. Effects of laying on of hands with and without a spiritual context on pain and functionality of older women with knee osteoarthritis: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(2): 106-112.
[10] Shubha Singhal, Vandana Roy. Awareness, practice and views about integrating AYUSH in allopathic curriculum of allopathic doctors and interns in a tertiary care teaching hospital in New Delhi, India. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(2): 113-119.
[11] Fabiana de Almeida Andrade, Caio Fabio Schlechta Portella. Research methods in complementary and alternative medicine: An integrative review. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(1): 6-13.
[12] Saswati Mahapatra, Anjali Bhagra, Bisrat Fekadu, Zhuo Li, Brent A. Bauer, Dietlind L. Wahner-Roedler. Incorporation of integrative medicine education into undergraduate medical education: A longitudinal study. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2017, 15(6): 442-449.
[13] Yadaridee Viravud, Angkana Apichartvorakit, Pramook Mutirangura, Vasana Plakornkul, Jantima Roongruangchai, Manmas Vannabhum, Tawee Laohapand, Pravit Akarasereenont. The anatomical study of the major signal points of the court-type Thai traditional massage on legs and their effects on blood flow and skin temperature. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2017, 15(2): 142-150.
[14] Udhaya Lavinya Baskaran, Evan Prince Sabina. Clinical and experimental research in antituberculosis drug-induced hepatotoxicity: A review. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2017, 15(1): 27-36.
[15] Molly J. Mallory, Alexander Do, Sara E. Bublitz, Susan J. Veleber, Brent A. Bauer, Anjali Bhagra. Puncturing the myths of acupuncture. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2016, 14(5): 311-314.
Full text



[1] Dong Yang, Yong-ping Du, Qing Shen, Wei Chen, Yan Yu, Guang-lei Chen. Expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin in renal tubulointerstitium in patients with kidney collateral stasis. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 41-44
[2] Hai-feng Wei, Bai-liu Ya, Ling Zhao, Cui-fei Ye, Li Zhang, Lin Li. Evaluation of tongue manifestation of blood stasis syndrome and its relationship with blood rheological disorder in a rat model of transient brain ischemia. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 73-76
[3] Xi Lin, Jian-ping Liu. Herbal medicines for viral myocarditis. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 76
[4] Xi Lin, Jian-ping Liu. Tai chi for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 82
[5] Liang-ping Hu, Hui Gao. Discrimination of errors in statistical analysis of medical papers published in the first issue of 2006 in Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 98-106
[6] Yan-bo Zhu , Qi Wang, Cheng-yu Wu, Guo-ming Pang, Jian-xiong Zhao, Shi-lin Shen, Zhong-yuan Xia , Xue Yan . Logistic regression analysis on relationships between traditional Chinese medicine constitutional types and overweight or obesity. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(11): 1023-1035
[7] Wei Xu, Meng Shi, Jian-gang Liu, Cheng-long Wang . Collagen protein expressions in ischemic myocardium of rats with acute myocardial infarction and effects of qi-tonifying, yin-tonifying and blood-activating herbs and detoxifying and blood-activating herbs. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(11): 1041-1047
[8] Tao Wang , Feng Qin. Effects of Chinese herbal medicine Xiaoyao Powder on monoamine neurotransmitters in hippocampus of rats with postpartum depression. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(11): 1075-1079
[9] Ying Xu , Chang-chun Zeng , Xiu-yu Cai , Rong-ping Guo , Guang Nie , Ying Jin. Chromaticity and optical spectrum colorimetry of the tongue color in different syndromes of primary hepatic carcinoma. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2012, 10(11): 1263-1271
[10] Xiang-ying Mao , Qin Bian , Zi-yin Shen. Analysis of the osteogenetic effects exerted on mesenchymal stem cell strain C3H10T1/2 by icariin via MAPK signaling pathway in vitro. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2012, 10(11): 1272-1278