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Date of Graduation


Degree Type

Capstone Project (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Keir Todd, PA-C, M.Ed.


Context: Medical providers who have personally used various forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are much more likely to use, refer, and wish to refer their patients to such CAM therapies in the future.

Objective: This study will investigate the physician assistants in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties to determine the current level of use, referral, and desire for service of different complementary and alternative medicine therapies in the Portland, Oregon Metropolitan Region.

Design: Testing will involve a survey that is sent to all physician assistants in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. Seventeen therapies were asked about in the survey including: acupressure, acupuncture, aromatherapy, biofeedback, chiropractic, ethnic healing, herbal medicine, hydrotherapy, hypnotherapy, magnetic field therapy, massage, meditation/guided imagery, naturopathic medicines, nutritional supplements, osteopathy, prayer therapy, and yoga. Data was analyzed based on the amount of physician assistants who indicated for each therapy whether they had used a therapy with a patient; referred a patient for therapy; if they would like to offer the therapy to their patients in the future; if they personally use any of the therapies listed; and if given the opportunity, would they be interested in attending CME courses in alternative medicine.

Subjects: The subject population used in this study will be the seventy-two physician assistants in the Portland, Oregon Metropolitan Region (Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties).

Results: There were 44 (61 %) respondents, of whom 39 (54%) had' completed the survey adequately for inclusion. The majority of physician assistants were more likely to refer patients to the following CAM therapies: massage, chiropractic, acupuncture,. biofeedback, and naturopathic medicines. Seventy-four percent of the P A's reported that they used at least one of the CAM modalities on the survey for their own care. The female respondents indicated more often than the male respondents (49% vs. 18% respectively) that they would like to attend CME course(s) on CAM therapies. Out of29 CAM users, 21 (72%) use alternative therapies with their patients, 25 (86%) refer patients for complementary and alternative therapies, and 21 (72%) would like to receive CME on CAM.

Conclusion: Those providers who have themselves used various forms of complementary therapies and who are interested in learning about alternative medicine are much more likely to use, refer, and have a desire to refer their patients to CAM therapies in the future.


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