Aims and objectives. This study aims to evaluate and compare nursing and medical students’ attitudes and knowledge about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
Background. Despite increased popularity of the use of complementary and alternative medicine, it is not included in nursing and medicine schools’ curricula in many countries.
Design. A cross-sectional design was used.
Method. This study’s research population included 972 students who were educated at a school of nursing and a faculty of medicine during the academic year 2006–2007. The study used a questionnaire the researchers prepared as data collection form. Pearson chi-square test was used to observe the differences between nursing and medical students. A p-value <0·05 was accepted statistically significant.
Results. The population was 49·1% nursing students and 50·9% medical students. Of the nursing students, 57·8% agreed with the statements that complementary and alternative medicine modalities should be integrated into clinical practice, 61·3% agreed for curriculum. Of the medical school students, 32·6% agreed for clinical practice and 37·9% for curriculum. The nursing students had sufficient knowledge of mostly massage and imagery; and medical students had sufficient knowledge of mostly diet therapy, vitamins and prayer.
Conclusions. The results of current study reveal that nursing students adopt more positive attitudes than medical students towards complementary and alternative medicine therapies and that both student groups have limited knowledge of complementary and alternative medicine modalities.
Relevance to clinical practice. Physicians and nurses play important roles in helping patients use complementary and alternative medicine safely and accurately. Therefore, as future nurses and physicians, nursing and medical students should have sufficient knowledge of and education on complementary and alternative medicine modalities. In this context, handling complementary and alternative medicine on a scientific scale and including it in nursing and medical students’ educational programmes should be among the goals and plans in Turkey.