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J Altern Complement Med. 2007 Apr;13(3):387-91.

Educating CAM practitioners about integrative medicine: an approach to overcoming the communication gap with conventional health care practitioners.

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The Complementary and Traditional Medicine Unit, Department of Family Medicine, The Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, The Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel.



To assess an educational initiative that teaches complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) students how to communicate more effectively with conventional physicians about CAM.


We introduced an educational initiative in integrative medicine to CAM students in their final year of study, emphasizing evidence-based learning, patient-centered care, and communication skills with conventional health care providers. A precourse semistructured questionnaire and an anonymous open essay about the students' experiences at the end of the course were used as tools for assessment. The precourse questionnaires and the postcourse essays were evaluated, using content analysis for parallel responses to determine whether students' views changed during the course.


We evaluated the experience in 62 students exposed to the initiative during 4 academic years, 2001-2005. We found that CAM students perceive that they need practical communication tools in order to communicate effectively with conventional practitioners. After the educational experience, the students confirmed that critical thinking training is important, and reported feeling more empowered and more confident in their work as well as in communicating with physicians.


The results of this study suggest that CAM practitioners feel better equipped to communicate with conventional health care practitioners after exposure to a structured educational initiative that emphasizes critical thinking, patient-centered care, and communication skills with conventional practitioners.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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