Medical students' perceptions of complementary and alternative medicine therapies: A pre- and post-exposure survey in Majmaah University, Saudi Arabia
Background: Evidently, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is increasingly a recognized medical practice that efficiently uses multiple treatment therapies and techniques in promoting the health and wellbeing of people as well as preventing and managing a variety of human disorders. Research in CAM, which courses exposure to diverse healthcare professionals, is important from many perspectives including improvement in teaching skills of faculty, enhancing capacity building, and innovative curriculum development. This pre- and post-design crosssectional study aimed to assess perceptions, training needs, personal usage, use in office practice, and knowledge of two batches of medical students toward CAM therapies in Majmaah University, Saudi Arabia.
Materials and Methods: The second year medical students of the first (year 2012-13) and second (year 2013-2014) batch [n=26 & 39, respectively] were selected for this study. A reliable 16-item self-administered questionnaire was distributed among all students for answering before and after the 48-hour specific 19 CAM therapies course, in terms of CAM therapies are clearly conventional or alternative, training needs, effectiveness, personal use, use in practice, management of two clinical cases by CAM or conventional therapies, and views about which evidence based approach strongly support individual CAM modalities.
Results: Medical students' knowledge and perceptions of CAM therapies significantly improved across some sub-items of CAM questionnaire with a positive trend in the rest of its items including their views about CAM therapies, need for further training, personal use of therapies and advising patients regarding CAM practices strongly supported by randomized clinical controlled trials and published case studies.
Conclusion: CAM course tends to have positive impact on the knowledge and perceptions of medical students, in addition to need for further training, and personal use and use of CAM therapies in practice in line with strong evidence-based data regarding therapeutic efficacy. The preliminary results of this study call for further research in specific CAM modalities with a larger sample in academic settings across the nation.
Key words: Medical students; Complementary and Alternative Medicine; CAM course; CAM therapies; pre-post design study; Saudi Arabia.
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