Medical Students and Alternative Medicine

Here you will find key figures from a survey on Copenhagen medical students' attitude towards and knowledge of alternative medicine.

The study was conducted by the Student Association Group for Integrated Medicine at Copenhagen University, Denmark.

The study was published in 2008.

Views on Alternative Medicine

Generally, the students agree on the following views:

Medical students’ attitudes towards alternative medicine (Percent)

 Strongly agree/partly agree Strongly agree/partly agree  Undecided
It is relevant for medical practitioners to have basic knowledge of alternative treatments         88        7        5
Alternative therapies include theories and solutions that may be useful to conventional medicine         70
        13         20  
Teaching alternative medicine should form part of the curriculum of medical studies         49        32        19 

Knowledge of Alternative Medicine

94 percent of the students knew about one or more types of alternative medicine and 34 percent knew about more than five.

The students were mostly familiar with the following three types of alternative medicine:

  • Acupuncture (86 percent)
  • Herbal medicines and Dietary supplements (85 percent)
  • Reflexology (73 percent).

Use of Alternative Medicine

68 percent of the students use or have used alternative therapy.

The most commonly used types of alternative medicine are:

  • Herbal medicines and Dietary supplements (50 percent)
  • Acupuncture (18 percent)
  • Reflexology (18 percent).

Authors' conclusion

The authors concluded that:

"A surprisingly large part of the medical students in Copenhagen reported knowledge and use of CAM compared with other countries, and with the general population, and the students are generally positive towards CAM. The majority agrees that physicians need to possess basic knowledge of CAM, and that courses on CAM should form part of the curriculum."

About the Study

The study is based on a questionnaire survey among medical students at the University of Copenhagen.

508 medical students during their first, second, fourth, sixth, eighth and tenth semester received a self-administered questionnaire.

485 questionnaires were returned, of which 15 were blank and therefore not included in the study. Thus, the total number of responses is 470, which equals a response rate of 92.5 percent.

161 of the participants were men (36 percent) and 291 were women (64 percent). The average age was 23 years.

The purpose of the Student Association Group of Integrated Medicine is to promote awareness of alternative medicine among students at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.