Altern Ther Health Med. 1998 Nov; 4(6): 59-65.
An organizational survey of physicians' attitudes about and practice of complementary and alternative medicine.
Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA.
CONTEXT: A questionnaire was developed and administered by the Center for Addiction and Alternative Medicine Research, one of the research centers funded by the Office of Alternative Medicine. It was felt that information regarding mainstream medical usage and beliefs about alternative therapies might help to direct the focus of the center's research. OBJECTIVE: To examine the attitudes about and knowledge and practice of complementary and alternative medicine among physicians at a Midwestern teaching hospital. DESIGN: Two-part questionnaire. The first part requested demographic information, use of and familiarity with alternative therapies, research preferences, and general practice. The second part was designed for physicians with more experience in alternative modalities. PARTICIPANTS: 265 physicians working a minimum of 20 hours per week. Physicians were affiliated with the Hennepin Faculty Associates, which contracts its services exclusively to the Hennepin County Medical Center. RESULTS: A total of 109 responses were received, for a return rate of 40%. Most respondents predicted that the integration of alternative medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center would result in positive treatment, professional, and social outcomes. Physicians reported high rates of referrals to alternative practitioners, influenced in part by patients' demand and interest. Most (58.7%) respondents agreed that physicians should be knowledgeable about the most popular alternative therapies. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that the physicians of Hennepin County Medical Center are, if not supportive, at least open-minded about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine. Standards of evidence must be rigorous to convince mainstream medical doctors of the safety and efficacy of alternative therapies.