The authors review the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the United States. They then present and discuss the rationales used by the 15 National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine CAM educational grantees in their original proposals for incorporating CAM content into conventional health professions training programs. Fourteen of the grantees were from major U.S. medical and nursing schools, and one was from a medical student foundation. Awards were for five-year periods (with the exception of one three-year grant) from 2000 to 2008. Rationales for developing educational programs about CAM for conventional health professionals included (1) the prevalence and growth of CAM in the United States, (2) response to governmental, legislative, and other mandates, (3) need for enhanced communication between conventional providers and patients using CAM, (4) need to enhance safety of CAM use and interactions with conventional care, (5) CAM education’s positive impact on broadening core competencies for conventional health care professionals, (6) positive impact on enhancing cultural competency, (7) need for better communication between conventional and CAM providers, (8) potential for improving health care coordination, (9) potential impact on increasing CAM research quality and capacity, and (10) potential for enhancing quality of care through informed CAM use. Integration of CAM with conventional health care requires educational venues that prepare conventionally trained caregivers with a sufficient knowledge base for assessing beneficial and detrimental interactions between CAM and conventional care approaches; development of criteria for making informed referrals to CAM practitioners; and enhanced research capacity.
Dr. Gaylord is director, Program on Integrative Medicine, and research assistant professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Dr. Mann is professor, Department of Neurology, director, Integrative Medicine, University Headache Clinic, and director, Clinical Services, Program on Integrative Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Gaylord, 1148 Main Hospital, C.B.7200, UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC 27599; fax: (919) 843-0164; e-mail: (email@example.com).