CAM attitudes in first- and second-year medical students: A pre- and post-course survey

Marcy Halterman-Cox, Victor S. Sierpina, Mark Sadoski, Charles Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: This study evaluated a 10-week, introductory elective on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies offered to first- and second-year medical students in the fall of 2004 by examining students' responses to a variety of teaching methods about CAM treatments and by measuring knowledge obtained by the pre- and post-course evaluations. Methods: Pre-and post-course survey questionnaires were administered to first- and second-year medical students (N=37). Questionnaires gathered information regarding the student's outlook on CAM such as general attitudes, whether they believed certain CAM approaches were more "mainstream" or not, and to what degree they planned to include CAM in their future practice of medicine. Limitations: Students were not randomly selected as this was an elective course. Another limitation could have been the quality of the presentations and the teaching ability of the lecturers, which might have influenced student feedback more than the content area itself. Because questionnaires were anonymous, students' pre- and post-responses could not be matched, precluding statistical significance testing. Results: Students' attitudes towards certain CAM modalities varied by gender, with female students tending towards the negative on post-course general attitudes. Subject material was perceived more positively when presented by an MD than if presented by a non-MD. Conclusions: This study explored a variety of strategies on how to best impart CAM content in a usable form to medical students, concluding that educational research on curriculum design - including matters such as the credibility and expertise of the presenter - are needed as this material is integrated into medical training. On another note, there has been some fear expressed in medical academia that newer medical students, such as these in their first and second years, lack a sound basis in rigorous medical training and thereby might be too uncritical of CAM therapies. This study shows such a fear may be unfounded due to student's critical thinking skills even in the early years of medical school.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-42
Number of pages9
JournalIntegrative Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Attitude(s) toward CAM
  • CAM
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Gender
  • Medical education
  • Medical students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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