Knowledge of the benefits of massage is growing, among both the general public and the medical realm. New research shows osteopathic medical students have a positive attitude toward complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), of which massage therapy is one method.

The research, conducted by investigators with Ohio University Heritage College of Medicine, in Athens, Ohio, also shows the students have high levels of self-reported CAM knowledge and use, with massage therapy among the top two modalities they use for self-care, according to an abstract published on

In beginning their research, the investigators noted, “Given the increase in CAM use and the need for CAM education for health professionals, it is important to understand the baseline attitudes and beliefs of osteopathic medical students regarding CAM, as well as the factors that may have formed them,”

A previously validated, 29-item Integrative Medicine Attitude Questionnaire and a 10-item CAM Health Belief Questionnaire were administered to osteopathic medical students, according to the abstract. Demographic and other data were collected on student use of and recommendations for CAM modalities as well as student awareness and use of primary CAM information resources.

Survey respondents were 635 osteopathic medical students from seven osteopathic medical schools and additional locations in the U.S., according to the abstract. Among the results:

• Osteopathic medical students demonstrated positive attitudes toward CAM use

• A total of 527 osteopathic medical students (83.0 percent) self-reported the use of at least one CAM modality, whereas 69 students (10.9 percent) used just one CAM modality and 458 (72.1 percent) used two or more modalities

• The most commonly used CAM modalities—meditation/yoga/relaxation/imagery, massage, and spirituality/prayer—were also most likely to be suggested to patients by osteopathic medical students

“Osteopathic medical students who acquire professional training and have personal experience with CAM may be in a better position to discuss CAM with future patients,” the investigators noted.

The research was published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

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