Background: Despite widespread public use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies, no standardized CAM curriculum is available to medical educators, and evaluation of such curricula is limited.
Objectives: (1) To evaluate the impact of a 3-week elective CAM rotation--integrating site-visits, small groups lectures and discussion, reference materials, a research paper--on medical students' confidence in their knowledge about CAM, attitudes toward CAM, and perceived effectiveness of CAM therapies. (2) To generate greater interest in evaluation of CAM curricula in medical school.
Methods: Students (N=24) completed a pre- and post-course self-assessment tool designed to assess respondents' confidence in their knowledge about CAM (e.g., CAM principles and philosophy, indications for referral), attitudes toward CAM (e.g., its importance to heath professionals), and perceptions of the effectiveness of 10 CAM therapies.
Results: Students' confidence increased substantially in the 4 domains of knowledge assessed. Students' positive pre-course attitudes toward CAM were sustained or improved, and their views on the effectiveness of CAM modalities increased.
Conclusion: A course that provides students with the opportunity to delve into the vast area of CAM though site visits, small group discussions, lectures, and independent research projects may be an effective means of providing a CAM curriculum.