To explore student pharmacists’ attitudes toward complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and examine factors shaping students’ attitudes.
Descriptive, exploratory, nonexperimental study.
Electronic survey of student pharmacists between March and October 2011.
887 student pharmacists in 10 U.S. colleges/schools of pharmacy.
Main outcome measures
Student pharmacists’ attitudes regarding CAM using the attitudes toward CAM scale (15 items), attitudes toward specific CAM therapies (13 items), influence of factors (e.g., coursework, personal experience) on attitudes (18 items), and demographic characteristics (15 items).
Mean (±SD) score on the attitudes toward CAM scale was 52.57 ± 7.65 (of a possible 75; higher score indicated more favorable attitudes). Students agreed that a patient's health beliefs should be integrated in the patient care process (4.39 ± 0.70 [of 5]) and that knowledge about CAM would be required in future pharmacy practice (4.05 ± 0.83). Scores on the attitudes toward CAM scale varied by gender (women higher than men,
P = 0.001), race/ethnicity (nonwhite higher than white,
P < 0.001), type of institution (private higher than public,
P < 0.001), previous CAM coursework (
P < 0.001), and previous CAM use (
P < 0.001). Personal experience, pharmacy education (e.g., coursework and faculty attitudes), and family background were important factors shaping students’ attitudes.
Student pharmacists hold generally favorable views of CAM, and both personal and educational factors shape their views. These results provide insight into factors shaping future pharmacists’ perceptions of CAM. Additional research is needed to examine how attitudes influence future pharmacists’ confidence and willingness to talk to patients about CAM.