Alternative medicine research in clinical practice a US national survey

Jon C. Tilburt, Farr A. Curlin, Ted J. Kaptchuk, Brian Clarridge, Dragana Bolcic-Jankovic, Ezekiel J. Emanuel, Franklin G. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Little is known about whether federally funded complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) research is translating into clinical practice. We sought to describe the awareness of CAM clinical trials, the ability to interpret research results, the acceptance of research evidence, and the predictors of trial awareness among US clinicians. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional mailed survey of 2400 practicing US acupuncturists, naturopaths, internists, and rheumatologists. Results: A total of 1561 clinicians (65%) responded. Of the respondents, 59% were aware of at least 1 major CAM clinical trial; only 23% were aware of both trials. A minority of acupuncturists (20%), naturopaths (25%), internists (17%), and rheumatologists (33%) were "very confident" in interpreting research results (P<.001). Fewer acupuncturists (17%) and naturopaths (24%) than internists (58%) and rheumatologists (74%) rated the results of randomized controlled trials as "very useful" (P< .001). Twice as many internists (53%) and rheumatologists (64%) rated patient preferences as "least important" compared with acupuncturists (27%) and naturopaths (31%) (P<.001). In multivariate analyses, for clinicians aware of at least 1 trial, male sex (odds ratio [OR], 1.30 [95% confidence interval{CI}, 1.05-1.62]), prior research experience (OR, 1.45 [95% CI, 1.13-1.86]), institutional or academic practice setting (ORs, 1.98 [95% CI, 1.01-3.91], and 1.23 [95% CI, 0.73-2.09], respectively), and rating randomized trials as "veryuseful" (OR, 1.46 [95% CI, 1.12-1.91]) (P<.001) for clinical decision making were positively associated with CAM trial awareness. Acupuncturists, naturopaths, and internists (ORs, 0.15 [95%CI,0.10-0.23],0.15 [95%CI,0.09-0.24], and 0.18 [95% CI, 0.12-0.28], respectively) were all similarly less aware of CAM trial results compared with rheumatologists. Conclusion: For clinical research in CAM to achieve its social value, concerted efforts must be undertaken to train clinicians and improve the dissemination of research results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)670-677
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of internal medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 13 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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