Measuring what medical students think about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM): A pilot study of the complementary and alternative medicine survey

Ann W. Frye, Victor Sierpina, Eugene V. Boisaubin, Robert J. Bulik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


With increasing national and international support for the development of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) curricula in American medical schools, it is essential to measure what learners know and believe about CAM in order to assess outcomes of new teaching efforts. This paper describes the development and initial results of a survey designed for those purposes. The survey is constructed so that earlier single-institution studies of students' attitudes toward CAM topics, preferred ways of learning about CAM, and students' use of CAM therapies for self-care might be replicated and extended. A pilot test of the Complementary and Alternative Medicine ( CAM) Survey was conducted with third-year medical students at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Validity and reliability studies of the survey were conducted. Findings were compared to those of previously published studies. Interpretable subscales were constructed from survey questions. Students' attitudes toward CAM-related topics were generally favorable. More students were familiar with biological-based therapies than with other CAM therapies. The majority of respondents listed lectures as their preferred way to learn about CAM. Respondents' own CAM use varied; minority and economically-disadvantaged students were more likely to use CAM therapies than other students. The survey is a promising assessment of student attitudes toward and knowledge of CAM therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-32
Number of pages14
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2006



  • Alternative medicine
  • CAM
  • Evaluation
  • Medical education
  • Medical students
  • Survey research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Education

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