Objective: We wished to determine third-year medical students' opinions and knowledge related to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in a school with no formal or elective course on the subject.
Study design: A questionnaire was offered to third-year medical students during their 8-week rotation on obstetrics and gynecology.
Results: Most students had been exposed to CAM therapies, knew that the majority of the American public was using CAM, believed that some CAM interventions were useful, and did not believe CAM therapies were a threat to public health. Most students had insufficient knowledge or understanding of the safety or lack of it for 10 of the more common CAM modalities. Most respondents thought these interventions were useful, but would not refer the patient nor dissuade her from using them. There were no significant differences in responses between men and women or related to the time in the year of the clerkship.
Conclusion: Medical students in this school self-identified an interest about the clinical usefulness of 10 CAM modalities, but did not have sufficient knowledge about the safety for 10 of the more common CAM modalities. Including CAM topics in the medical school curriculum would better prepare physicians to respond to patient inquiries about CAM and thereby to fulfill their role as patient advocates.