This study was designed to determine rheumatologists' self-reported knowledge, perceptions of legitimacy, referral patterns, and use in practice of 22 complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies.
A survey was mailed to a random sample of 2000 physician members of the American College of Rheumatology asking respondents which (if any) CAM therapies they (1) knew enough about to discuss with patients, (2) considered part of "legitimate medical practice," and (3) "personally administered" to patients, or "referred patients to someone else" to administer. The response rate was 47%.
On average, the respondents reported knowing enough to discuss 10 of the therapies with patients, considered 9 to be part of legitimate medical practice, and had referred patients to someone else for 8 of the 22 therapies. Correlates of use and/or referral included sex, age, belief in the legitimacy of the therapies, and self-reported knowledge.
These results provide potentially important preliminary data regarding rheumatologists' responses to dramatic increases in the use of CAM therapies among their patients.