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We aimed to investigate whether students at German medical schools participating in elective courses on acupuncture and homeopathy differ from an unselected group of students regarding attitudes and personality traits.
Elective courses on acupuncture and homeopathy in the academic half-year 2013/14 all over Germany were identified and participants invited to fill in a questionnaire including nineteen questions on attitudes towards Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), orientation towards science, care and status orientation, and a short validated instrument (Big-Five-Inventory-10) to measure personality traits (extraversion, neuroticism, openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness). Participants of a mandatory family medicine course at one university served as unselected control group.
Two hundred twenty and 113 students from elective courses on acupuncture and homeopathy, respectively, and 315 control students participated (response rate 93%). Students participating in elective courses had much more positive attitudes towards CAM, somewhat lower science and status orientation, and somewhat higher care orientation than control group students (all p-values for three-group comparisons < 0.001). There were no differences between the three groups regarding personality traits with the exception of lower values for agreeableness in controls (p = 0.009).
The findings of this study show that attitudes of students participating in elective courses on acupuncture or homeopathy at German medical schools differ to a considerable degree from the attitudes of unselected students.