Dental students’ knowledge of and attitudes towards complementary and alternative medicine in Australia – An exploratory study

Joon Soo Park, Amy Theresa Page, Emma Turner, Jasmine Li, Marc Tennant, Estie Kruger

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Objectives: While complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is used by more than half of Australians, its role in dentistry is rarely covered in the curricula of Australian dental schools. This study aimed to investigate dental students’ knowledge of and attitudes towards CAM. Design: Australian dental students in the final two years of their study were invited to undertake a survey. These questions consisted of five clinically relevant case vignettes, for which there was only one correct answer amongst four possible options and seven self-reported perspective-based questions. Results were analysed using descriptive statistics. Results: Of the 185 students that participated, the mean correct response rate for the five clinical scenarios was 3.46 ± 0.95 (range: 0–5 out of 5). Of 185 students, 157 (85 %) answered more than half of the questions correctly. All five questions were answered correctly by 19 (10 %) students. Most (74 %) students self-reported to have little to no knowledge. More than two-thirds of dental students reported an interest in and belief in the effectiveness of CAM. A similar proportion expressed a desire for the integration of CAM content into their undergraduate curriculum. Conclusions: Despite approximately three out of four of dental students in this study having little to no knowledge on CAM, attitudes towards CAM therapies, and the need to integrate them into the dental curriculum, were generally positive. Future research into identifying specific knowledge gaps could help to redesign improved dental curricula.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102489
Number of pages5
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Dental curriculum
  • Knowledge
  • Perception

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