Document Type



Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Anthropology | Medical Education | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This paper analyzes the current state of, and demand for, integrative pre-health education in the undergraduate setting, specifically at the University of Connecticut. Students’ knowledge of, exposure to, and attitudes towards complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are assessed through a web-based survey and semi-structured interviews. This paper compares this research with surveys conducted in undergraduate, medical school, and medical professional settings to gauge current efforts to provide a more holistic approach to educating health care workers in subjects such as mind-body therapies, lifestyle contributors to health such as diet and exercise, culturally competent care, and therapeutic techniques outside of the biomedical model that may aid patient wellbeing. Additionally, this research compares students’ desires to learn about CAM therapies within these populations. An assessment of CAM education is appreciable in that these therapies have the potential to contribute to the implementation of the accepted biopsychosocial model of health to replace the insufficient biomedical model that is still widely practiced today. While there is a high level of interest among all populations in learning more about CAM therapeutic techniques, such as chiropractic medicine, nutrition, and meditation, few educational institutions have provided an adequate rigorous and scientifically-based curriculum to give future health care workers enough information to develop an integrative practice. While the focus has been largely on providing integrative health education in the professional educational setting, such as medical school, this research suggests that the undergraduate setting is ideal to train future health care workers in a variety of CAM therapies to prepare students to respond to the current need to provide holistic patient care. While professional and graduate schools have a compacted curriculum, undergraduate programs have more schedule flexibility. In addition, the melting pot of pre-health care professionals in the undergraduate setting allows for more collaboration between these careers to begin to not only create a standardized level of care, but also to build interprofessional respect and communication to foster the development of a comprehensive coordinated health care system. This research also offers insight into the current state of pre-health education at the University of Connecticut for potential program development.