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Vol. 12, No. 3, 2005
Issue release date: June 2005
Forsch Komplementärmed Klass Naturheilkd 2005;12:139-143
Original Article · Originalarbeit

Integration of Complementary and Alternative Medicine into German Medical School Curricula – Contradictions between the Opinions of Decision Makers and the Status Quo

Brinkhaus B.a, b · Joos S.b · Lindner M.b · Kohnen R.c · Witt C.a · Willich S.N.a · Hahn E.G.b
aInstitut für Sozialmedizin, Epidemiologie und Gesundheitsökonomie, Charité – Universitätsmedizin – Berlin, bMedizinische Klinik I mit Poliklinik, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, cIMEREM, Institute for Medical Research Management and Biometrics, Nürnberg, Germany


Introduction: There is a growing demand for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in Western societies. This trend has lead to the gradual integration of CAM courses into medical school curricula. The aim of this study was to survey key decision makers at German medical schools with regard to their views on CAM and to examine the extent to which CAM has already been integrated in the German medical school system. Materials and Methods: A questionnaire was sent to 753 clinic and institute directors at German medical schools. Results: A total of 500 questionnaires (66%) were returned. 39% of respondents had a positive opinion of CAM, 27% had a neutral opinion and 31% had a negative opinion. 3% of respondents were unsure. The CAM therapies viewed most positively were osteopathy (52%), acupuncture (48%), and naturopathy (41%). Most respondents were in favor of integrating CAM into the medical system. However, a larger percentage favored its use in research (61%) and teaching (59%) rather than in the treatment of patients (58%). Only 191 respondents (38%) indicated that CAM treatment methods had been integrated into the curriculum of their respective medical schools. In these schools, CAM was mainly used in patient treatment (35%), followed by research (22%) and education (21%). Conclusions: Our data show that the majority of respondents were in favor of integrating CAM into medical school curricula. However, at the time of our survey, only a small percentage of medical schools had actually put this into practice. The reasons for this discrepancy are unclear and should be further investigated.

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