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Explore (NY). 2010 Jan-Feb;6(1):22-8. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2009.10.003.

Attitudes and interests toward research among students at two colleges of acupuncture and Oriental medicine.

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Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School Osher Research Center, Boston, MA, USA.



Collaborative input from clinicians of acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) is required for sound AOM research, and AOM training institutions have begun to include research education into their curriculum. However, few attempts have been made to systematically evaluate AOM practitioners' perspectives on the value of research to their profession.


We conducted surveys of AOM students at two institutions that have begun to integrate research training into their curriculum, the New England School of Acupuncture and the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. Surveys were conducted to assess current attitudes regarding the value of research and to serve as a reference point for documenting the impact of ongoing research training programs on these attitudes. Surveys at both institutions were independently developed and administered but shared seven questions that were phrased very similarly. This paper summarizes responses to these questions.


Surveys at both institutions suggest interest in research among AOM students is high in first-year students; students in later years showed a lower level of interest, but the cross-sectional design of this survey does not allow any temporal effects to be inferred. Results also indicate that AOM students believe research is highly relevant to how both the public and the health insurance industry view their system of healthcare but not highly relevant to their own clinical practice of AOM. The belief that research is of limited relevance to clinical practice was associated with widespread belief that scientific methods may not be consistent with the principles of AOM.


Results of these surveys provide important preliminary information about attitudes of AOM students toward research, and thus the value and future specific needs of research training programs targeting this population. Repeated implementation of validated versions of our surveys are needed to confirm the trends we report and to evaluate the impact of research training programs already in place on AOM students' attitudes toward research.

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