The total number of subjects was 261. The response rate was comparable in each of the 3 years (first year n = 93/152, 61%; second year n = 80/144, 56%; third year n = 88/145, 61%), for an overall response rate of 59%. shows the demographic characteristics of the responding students. Of the demographic variables, only gender and class year were significantly associated with survey results.
Descriptive statistics on medical student respondents.
Self-reported use of each of the CAM modalities is shown in . Massage (64%), Meditation/Yoga/Relaxation/Imagery (54.6%) and Spirituality/Prayer were most common used. Year in medical school was significantly related to student's report of use of CAM [F(2,262) = 9.016, P < .01], with reported usage of CAM lower for third year than for first year students.
Use of CAM modalities by medical student respondents.
Familiarity with CAM modalities did not differ significantly by year in medical school. Of the modalities, the least familiar was curanderismo, a Mexican form of folk healing, with 85% of the students reporting they had never heard of this.
Willingness to recommend CAM to friends or patients is reported in Tables and . Although there was some relationship between what students have used and what they will suggest, this was not always linearly correlated. For example, almost half of the students reported they would suggest Traditional Oriental Medicine (TOM) to patients, while only about 20% reported use of TOM. On the other hand, more students had used herbs or supplements than would recommend herbs or supplements to a patient. Female students in the first 2 years were more likely to recommend CAM to a friend than their male classmates (P = .02 for first years and P = .01 for second years). However, there were no differences seen between male and female responses for third year students.
Questions endorsed at the highest levels by all 3 years of students.
Reported likelihood of suggesting CAM to at friend (% of respondents).
Overall beliefs and opinions about complementary and alternative medicine were not significantly different between the first and second year classes, with a mean score of approximately 3.7 out of five for the 23 questions. However, third year students were more negative on the CAM attitude scale than either first or second year students [F(2,258) = 7.283, P < .01].
The highest rated attitude items overall are seen in . They appear to reflect a belief in the physician-patient relationship and the importance of self-care for physicians. The lowest rated items (reverse scored) indicated that medical students have embraced the basic tenets of evidence-based medicine (“Treatments not tested by randomized control trials should be discouraged" and “Physicians should avoid recommending botanical medicines based on observations of long-term use in other cultures and systems of healing, because such evidence is not based on large randomized controlled trials.").
Likelihood of suggesting CAM to a patient (% of respondents).