Background: We aimed to investigate why medical students in Germany participate in elective courses on acupuncture or homeopathy. Methods: The study was a nationwide, cross-sectional survey. Elective courses on acupuncture and homeopathy in the academic half-year 2013/14 were identified by inquiries directed to all 37 German medical schools, to student initiatives, and organizations supporting such courses. Participants of courses were asked to fill in a questionnaire consisting of a free-text question on their motives and closed questions regarding personal experiences, personal environment, evidence, role of the therapy as a complement to conventional medicine, and opportunistic aspects in relation to the therapy chosen. Results: Students participating in 16 of 18 identified acupuncture courses (n = 220) and 12 of 13 identified homeopathy courses (n = 113) filled in the questionnaire. Content analysis of the free text showed that personal experience, a feeling that conventional medicine is somehow incomplete, the belief that acupuncture or homeopathy could help to overcome this shortcoming, and positive characteristics attributed to the therapies were the main motives for participation. Quantitative analyses showed that own experiences and considering the therapy a useful complement to conventional medicine were similarly rated motives in both groups, while opportunistic aspects played almost no role. The influence of the personal environment was more important among homeopathy students, while acupuncture students considered their therapy better backed by evidence. Conclusion: In our survey, personal experiences and the belief that acupuncture or homeopathy allows grasping the patient more holistically were primary motives for participation.
Jocham A.· Berberat P.O. · Schneider A. · Linde K.
Complement Med Res 2017;24:295-301