The growing need to teach about complementary and alternative medicine: questions and challenges

Acad Med. 2001 Mar;76(3):251-4. doi: 10.1097/00001888-200103000-00012.


With the increased popularity of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), there is a growing interest in the topic among physicians, residents, and medical students, who feel an increased need to have proper instruction about CAM therapies. Medical schools and residency programs are starting to respond to this demand, having realized that to provide better care and foster an improved patient-doctor relationship, physicians should become informed consultants, and be able to provide educated advice about CAM to their patients and help them integrate any CAM therapies shown to be safe and effective into their health care. The authors acknowledge that opinions differ about the adequacy of research findings to certify the safety and efficacy of specific therapies, and stress that physicians' decisions about CAM use should be subject to the same exacting criteria employed by researchers to evaluate any new therapies. The authors report on CAM curriculum developments in Germany, Canada, and the United States that illustrate various approaches to the question, "What should be taught in a CAM course?" In most cases, the approach is to teach about CAM therapies, although in others, therapies that the curriculum planners considered useful and safe are being integrated into the medical curriculum.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Complementary Therapies / education*
  • Complementary Therapies / trends
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / organization & administration*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / organization & administration*
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Needs Assessment / organization & administration*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Planning Techniques
  • Teaching / organization & administration*
  • United States