Intended for healthcare professionals


Complementary medicine and medical education

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 20 January 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:121

Teaching complementary medicine offers a way of making teaching more holistic

  1. Brian M Berman (, professor of family medicine and director
  1. Complementary Medicine Program, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 2200 Kernan Drive, Baltimore, MD 21207

    Education and debate p 154

    Complementary and alternative medicine is no longer an obscure issue in medicine. Our patients are using alternative therapies in addition to conventional care 1 2 and sometimes do not share this information with us. But even if they did would we know how best to advise them about safety issues or about the effectiveness of a particular therapy for their problem? Surveys indicate that doctors and medical students are increasingly interested in complementary and alternative therapy,35 yet lack of knowledge is one of the greatest barriers to its appropriate use. Although many medical schools and training programmes now include teaching on complementary and alternative therapies, the approaches are variable and often superficial.

    In this issue Owen et al ask provocative questions about our attitudes and behaviour towards complementary and alternative therapy (p 154),6 and point out that few of us encountered such therapy as medical students or during later training. Nevertheless, there are signs of change, and Owen et al describe initiatives to include complementary and alternative therapy in medical education …

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