Physicians' Attitudes and Practices Regarding Complementary and Alternative Medicine

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Abstract

This article offers a review of the research literature on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and presents the findings from an exploratory survey of the beliefs, attitudes, intentions, and behaviors of conventionally trained physicians toward CAM. Earlier studies of CAM focused primarily on patients' attitudes and behaviors rather than those of physicians. Physicians play a crucial role in moderating patients' beliefs about and use of CAM treatments. Accordingly, this study focused on physicians' knowledge of medical efficacy and their impressions of CAM treatments. The findings from a survey mailed to a random sample of California physicians revealed that physicians' use or recommendations of CAM in their practices are limited by concerns about medical professional norms, yet are positively associated with their use of computer technology for self-education and communication with peers. Sixty-one percent of physicians do not feel sufficiently knowledgeable about CAM safety or efficacy, and 81% would like to receive more education on CAM modalities. The findings raise important issues for medical education and patient care.

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