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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 3, Issue 4, Pages 495-501
Original Article

Physicians' Attitudes Toward Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Their Knowledge of Specific Therapies: A Survey at an Academic Medical Center

1Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA
2Division of Biostatistics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA

Received 15 November 2005; Accepted 19 May 2006

Copyright © 2006 Dietlind L. Wahner-Roedler et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the attitudes of physicians at an academic medical center toward complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies and the physicians' knowledge base regarding common CAM therapies. A link to a Web-based survey was e-mailed to 660 internists at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, USA. Physicians were asked about their attitudes toward CAM in general and their knowledge regarding specific CAM therapies. The level of evidence a physician would require before incorporating such therapies into clinical care was also assessed. Of the 233 physicians responding to the survey, 76% had never referred a patient to a CAM practitioner. However, 44% stated that they would refer a patient if a CAM practitioner were available at their institution. Fifty-seven percent of physicians thought that incorporating CAM therapies would have a positive effect on patient satisfaction, and 48% believed that offering CAM would attract more patients. Most physicians agreed that some CAM therapies hold promise for the treatment of symptoms or diseases, but most of them were not comfortable in counseling their patients about most CAM treatments. Prospective, randomized controlled trials were considered the level of evidence required for most physicians to consider incorporating a CAM therapy into their practice. The results of this survey provide insight into the attitudes of physicians toward CAM at an academic medical center. This study highlights the need for educational interventions and the importance of providing physicians ready access to evidence-based information regarding CAM.