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Amy M Teper
Ellen Tsai


CAM use, complementary and alternative medicine, student health



Studies investigating Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) prevalence are outdated and are generalized across different demographic groups due to their national scope. Determining trends among specific populations is necessary to gain insight into the growing popularity of CAM.


To  determine  the  prevalence  and  factors  associated  with  CAM  use  among  Canadian  university undergraduate students and to determine student views regarding CAM research, education and policy- making decisions.


Two arbitrarily selected undergraduate student classes at Queen’s University were surveyed for this cross- sectional  descriptive  study.  Information  was  provided  by  128  respondents  via  questionnaire  (75% response rate) on key demographics, CAM use and satisfaction with mainstream Canadian healthcare. Upon completion of the survey, voluntary participation was requested for the interview portion resulting in 7 semi-structured qualitative interviews.


Of the 128 participants, 90 (70%) claimed to be users of at least one CAM modality. Female gender was strongly associated with CAM use (p<0.001). Other characteristics that may be correlated include being enrolled in a health-related academic program, being dissatisfied with certain aspects of the healthcare system and having parents who use CAM. The majority of respondents desired more research and education on CAM and more collaboration between the two healthcare streams.


Canadian university undergraduate students are active CAM users and interest in CAM is high among this population. Further investigation is required to ensure that students are using CAM safely and appropriately.

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