Physicians' Attitudes Toward Complementary or Alternative Medicine: A Regional Survey

Physicians' Attitudes Toward Complementary
or Alternative Medicine: A Regional Survey

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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FROM:   J Am Board Fam Pract 1995 (Sep); 8 (5): 361-366

Berman BM, Singh BK, Lao L, Singh BB, Ferentz KS, Hartnoll SM

Department of Family Medicine,
University of Maryland at Baltimore 21210, USA

BACKGROUND:   A survey exploring attitudes toward complementary or alternative medicine was distributed to 295 family physicians in the Chesapeake region. Physicians were asked about their knowledge, usage of, and training in complementary therapies and what evidence they expected of complementary medicine to aid in accepting these therapies.

METHODS:   Questionnaires were distributed at three separate conferences of family physicians with 180 physicians responding.

RESULTS:   More than 70 to 90 percent of the physicians considered complementary medical therapies, such as diet and exercise, behavioral medicine, counseling and psychotherapy, and hypnotherapy, to be legitimate medical practices. A majority had referred patients to nonphysicians for these therapies or used some of them in their own practices. Homeopathy, Native American medicine, and traditional Oriental medicine were not favored as legitimate medical practice. Areas where physicians had the least amount of training were most likely to be considered as alternative medicine by them. Seventy percent of responding physicians expressed interest in training in multiple areas of alternative medicine. Additionally, there was a strong positive correlation between evidentiary rules physicians believed should apply to orthodox medicine and to alternative or complementary medicine.

CONCLUSIONS:   Results of this survey show a high interest in alternative and complementary medicine by physicians. Some therapies are already being used by these physicians, and training is desired in most areas.


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