Teaching Evidence-Based Medicine at Complementary and Alternative Medicine Institutions: Strategies, Competencies, and Evaluation

Principal Investigator: Heather Zwickey, PhD

Co-Investigators: Heather Schiffke, MSOM

Funded by NIH R25 Grant

Background: As evidence-based medicine (EBM) becomes a standard in health care, it is essential that practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) become experts in searching and evaluating the research literature. In support of this goal, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) provided R25 funding to nine CAM colleges to develop individual programs focused on teaching EBM. An overarching goal of these research education grants has been to provide CAM faculty and students with the skills they need to apply a rigorous evidence-based perspective to their training and practice.

Methods: This paper reviews the competencies and teaching strategies developed and implemented to enhance research literacy at all nine R25-funded institutions. While each institution designed approaches suitable for its research culture, the guiding principles were similar: to develop evidence-informed skills and knowledge, thereby helping students and faculty to critically appraise evidence and then use that evidence to guide their clinical practice. Curriculum development and assessment included faculty-driven learning activities and longitudinal curricular initiatives to encourage skill reinforcement and evaluate progress.

Conclusion: As the field of integrative medicine matures, the NIH-NCCAM research education grants provide essential training for future clinicians and clinician-researchers. Building this workforce will facilitate multidisciplinary collaborations that address the unique needs for research that informs integrative clinical practice.

Link to paper