The rapid growth of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) predated both the 1992 establishment of the Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health and the release of Dr. David Eisenberg's 1993 groundbreaking article on the widespread use of CAM. Since these two watershed events, the use of nontraditional medical modalities has seen exponential expansion. Most physicians are not prepared to respond knowledgeably about CAM modalities, and, indeed, sorting out the viable CAM modalities can be a difficult task. Additional factors are poor and inadequate dialogue between physicians and CAM practitioners, doubts about CAM practitioners' competence, a lack of readily identifiable and recognizable qualifications of such practitioners, and the risk of offering unrealistic hope of a cure. All these factors place the patient in a sometimes perilously uncertain position. Incorporating systematic presentation of CAM information into the curricula of medical schools would provide future physicians the necessary tools and knowledge to enable their patients to use CAM modalities appropriately, with limited risks.
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