How should complementary and alternative medicine be taught to medical students in Switzerland? A survey of medical experts and students

Med Teach. 2010 Jan;32(1):50-5. doi: 10.3109/01421590902825123.


Background: In Switzerland and in the whole western world, the growing popularity of CAM is calling for its implementation in the undergraduate medical curriculum.

Aims: To determine whether medical experts and medical students are favorable to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) education at Swiss medical schools and to investigate their opinion about its form, content and goals.

Methods: Experts in the fields of conventional medicine (COM, n = 106), CAM experts (n = 29) and senior medical students (n = 640) were surveyed by an online questionnaire.

Results: 48.7% of the COM experts, 100% of the CAM experts, and 72.6% of the students are favorable to CAM education at Swiss medical schools. The most requested disciplines are acupuncture, phytotherapy, and homeopathy; the most recommended characteristics of CAM education are elective courses, during the clinical years, in the format of seminars and lectures. For the CAM experts, the priority is to improve the students' knowledge of CAM, whereas for the COM experts and the students, the priority is to analyze efficiency, security, interactions, and secondary effects of CAM.

Conclusions: CAM courses should be informative, giving the students sufficient knowledge to provide a critical analysis of efficiency and security of different CAM modalities.

MeSH terms

  • Complementary Therapies / education*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Expert Testimony*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Students, Medical*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Switzerland