Purpose To assess the need for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) instruction at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine (UKCOM) to assist in the development of a planned educational intervention.
Methods An IRB-approved written questionnaire was delivered to the UKCOM Class of 2006 and the internal medicine resident-physicians at a scheduled conference. Participants denoted demographic information, personal use of CAM, as well as rated their attitudes toward CAM modalities and CAM instruction needs on a 5-point Likert-type scale, and completed a 10-item multiple choice quiz about common CAM modalities. Data analysis including descriptive, correlational, t-tests, reliability, and validity were performed using SPSS.
Results Thirty-nine (78%) residents and twenty-nine (97%) students who were approached completed the survey. Other than age, there were no significant differences in sociodemographic backgrounds between the two groups (p > .05). Both students and residents equally hold favorable attitudes toward CAM and are interested in learning more about CAM modalities especially counseling (72 ± 45), yoga (43 ± 50), meditation (41 ± 50), and relaxation (41 ± 50). Perceived knowledge deficits were significantly greater in the resident group compared to the students regarding acupuncture (77 ± 43 vs. 50 ± 52, p = .032), hypnotherapy (85 ± 37 vs 59 ± 50, p = .026), osteopathy (82 ± 39 vs 55 ± 51, p = .021), and chiropractic (51 ± 51 vs 23 ± 43, p = .03). Both groups performed poorly on the knowledge assessment component with an overall mean score of 5.6 ± 1.7 (5.6 ± 1.9 vs 5.5 ± 1.3, p = .86). The students displayed a greater desire to learn more about CAM modalities, especially hypnotherapy (100 ± 0 vs 69 ± 47, p = .003). Regarding CAM instruction needs, the students identified observation of CAM practitioners significantly more desirable than residents (4.1 ± .89 vs. 3.3 ± 1.1, p = .002).
Conclusions CAM education is valued by both cohorts in this study population. However, the degree to which knowledge deficits are admitted, education is desired, and the means by which their needs should be met are variable. These findings might reflect motivation and idealism by the students or cynicism by the residents in regards to time constraints and practicality of educational interventions at their level. Limitations to our study include single institution and variability of previous CAM instruction. We attempted to solve for sociodemographic and previous CAM use biases. In light of these findings, those developing CAM educational interventions should take into account potential learner need variation.
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