Perception of complementary and alternative medicine amongst medical students: a questionnaire based study

Author : Dr. Kavita Jaiswal, Dr. Chaitali Bajait, Dr. Sonali Pimpalkhute, Dr. Smita Sontakke, Dr. Ganesh Dakhale, Dr .Yogesh Tathod

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) includes herbal medicine, traditional therapies, mind-body intervention etc. As the use of CAM by patients is increasing, ignorance about this by future medical practitioners can cause a communication gap between them and their patients. There is paucity of information regarding the usage and acceptance of CAM by the medical students. To determine the knowledge, attitude and practice of CAM in medical students. A cross sectional, questionnaire based study conducted in 158 medical students of a tertiary care teaching hospital. Among the respondents 74.68 % had used meditation/yoga followed by spirituality (55.69 %), homeopathy (51.26 %), ayurveda (37.97 %). Maximum students (94.29 %) had positive, while 3.79% had negative attitudes towards CAM. The responses for CHBQ (CAM-Health Belief Questionnaire) statements were towards the higher end of the response scale but lower scores were found in reverse scaled statements. The highest mean item score was for ‘Knowledge about CAM is important to me as a student/future practicing health professional.’ The lowest mean item score was for ‘Complementary therapies are a threat to public health’. Students are not ready to accept the therapies which are not tested scientifically. Female students were having significantly stronger positive attitudes toward CAM than their male counterparts. Majority of the respondents use CAM and would like to recommend it to their patients in future. They would prefer scientifically tested alternate medicines. Females were found to have significant stronger positive attitudes toward CAM than their male counterparts.

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