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J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Sep;15(9):987-94. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0512.

Religion, clinicians, and the integration of complementary and alternative medicines.

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  • 1MacLean Center for Medical Ethics, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.



The aim of this study was to compare religious characteristics of general internists, rheumatologists, naturopaths, and acupuncturists, as well as to examine associations between physicians' religious characteristics and their openness to integrating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).


The design involved a national mail survey. The subjects were internists, rheumatologists, naturopaths, and acupuncturists.


Physician outcome measures were use of and attitudes toward six classes of CAM. Predictors were religious affiliation, intrinsic religiosity, spirituality, and religious traditionalism.


There was a 65% response. Naturopaths and acupuncturists were three times as likely as internists and rheumatologists to report no religious affiliation (35% versus 12%, p < 0.001), but were more likely to describe themselves as very spiritual (51% versus 20%, p < 0.001) and to agree they try to carry religious beliefs into life's dealings (51% versus 44%, p < 0.01). Among physicians, increased spirituality and religiosity coincided with more personal use of CAM and willingness to integrate CAM into a treatment program.


Current and future integrative medicine will be shaped in part by religious and spiritual characteristics of providers.

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