Are complementary medicine practitioners implementing evidence based practice?

Matthew Leach, David Gillham

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    56 Citations (Scopus)


    Over the past few decades the health professions have witnessed increasing pressure to shift from a culture of delivering care based on tradition and intuition, to a situation where decisions are guided and justified by the best available evidence. While there are concerns that many complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners may be cautious about embracing such an approach, no studies to date have effectively tested this assumption. Objective: To identify the skills, attitude, training and use of evidence-based practice (EBP) amongst CAM practitioners. Design: Descriptive survey, using the evidence-based practice attitude and utilisation survey (EBASE). Subjects: Randomly selected nationwide sample of system-based, non-medically qualified CAM practitioners practicing in a clinical capacity within Australia. Main outcome measures: Practitioner skill, attitude, training and use of EBP. Results: Of the 351 questionnaires successfully dispatched, 126 were returned (36%). Most practitioners believed EBP was useful (92%) and necessary (73%) in CAM practice. While the majority of clinicians (>74%) reported participation in EBP activities, albeit infrequently, only a small to moderate proportion of decisions were based on evidence from clinical trials, with most practitioners relying on traditional knowledge, textbooks and clinical practice guidelines. Lack of available evidence, time, industry support and skills were perceived as barriers to EBP uptake. Conclusions: While the small response rate limits the generalisability of these findings, the sample was considered representative of Australian CAM practitioners. What this study shows is that even though CAM practitioners may be supportive of EBP, education and training is needed to further improve clinician understanding and application of evidence-based practice.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)128-136
    Number of pages9
    JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


    • Complementary and alternative medicine
    • Evidence-based practice
    • Herbalism
    • Homeopathy
    • Naturopathy
    • Survey
    • Traditional chinese medicine


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