Factors influencing the inclusion of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in undergraduate medical education
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Objective To investigate the views and practices of UK medical schools regarding the inclusion (or exclusion) of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in undergraduate medical curricula. Design Survey (by email) of UK medical schools offering MBBS (or equivalent) degrees. Results The overall response rate was 58.1% (18/31). All respondents indicated that their curricula included CAM elements. However, the quantity of CAM within curricula varied widely between medical schools, as did the methods by which CAM education was delivered. General Medical Council requirements were the strongest factor influencing the inclusion of CAM, although medical student preferences were also important. Respondents were generally satisfied with the extent of CAM provision within their curricula, while a wide range of views on the appropriateness of CAM in the medical curriculum were held by faculty members. Conclusions It may be useful for the General Medical Council to clarify the extent to which CAM should be incorporated into the curriculum. Current CAM education appears to exist primarily as a means of educating future doctors on the modalities that their patients may use or request. However, some forms of pedagogy arguably risk students assimilating CAM advocacy in an uncritical fashion.