Observational studies evaluating elective training programs may be biased if learners who enroll differ from nonenrollees. To assess self-selection bias, we compared participants who enrolled in 2 different online courses in complementary and alternative medical therapies.Methods.
Participants were recruited from entering classes in medicine, nursing, social work, and dietetics, and residencies in family medicine and pediatrics. The 2 electives were (a) herbs and dietary supplements and (b) mind-body skills training. Participants completed standardized questionnaires before training.Results.
The 218 participants had an average age of 28 years; 76% were trainees. There were no significant differences between enrollees in mind-body skills and herbs and dietary supplements with regard to age, gender, stress levels, mind-body training or practice, mindfulness, empathy, compassion, or resilience.Conclusions.
Those who enroll in mind-body skills are not measurably different than those who enroll in herbs and dietary supplements. There is no evidence of self-selection bias or “preaching to the choir.”