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Use of mind-body therapies in psychiatry and family medicine faculty and residents: Attitudes, barriers, and gender differences

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Journal: Explore (NY). 2007 Mar-Apr;3(2):129-35.

Authors and affiliation: Sierpina V, Levine R, Astin J, Tan A. University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas.

PMID: 17362848

Background: Mind-body medicine (MBM) approaches to many health problems have been well documented in the literature, including through multiple meta-analyses. Efficacy has been well demonstrated in conditions such as headache, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, Fibromyalgia, hypertension, low back pain, depression, cancer symptoms, and postmyocardial infarction.

However, an apparent disconnect (ie, translational block) prevents more widespread adoption of such therapies into practice. Biofeedback, relaxation therapy, hypnosis, guided imagery, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychoeducational approaches are the domain of MBM we examined in assessing physician attitudes, beliefs, and practices.

Methods: Using a Web-based survey, we obtained responses from 74 faculty and resident physicians in the Department of Family Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry. Our response rate was 69%. We conducted descriptive statistics, bivariate analysis, and multivariate analysis using a logistic regression model. Various statistics were chosen depending on the nature of analyzed variables. Synoptic tables are presented.

Results: Comparing these cohorts, we found little difference between physicians in the two specialties, but substantial reports that barriers to the use of MBM were largely based on lack of training, inadequate expertise, and insufficient clinic time. Lack of expertise and insufficient clinic time were higher among family physicians than among psychiatrists.

There was a high interest in both groups in learning relaxation techniques and meditation – and lower interest in biofeedback and hypnosis.

Female physicians were significantly more likely to use MBM, both with patients and for their own self-care, and were less likely to be concerned that recommending these therapies would make patients feel that their symptoms were being discounted.

Female physicians also had significantly higher beliefs about the benefits of MBM on health disorders in several of the conditions examined, with a consistent though nonsignificant trend in others.

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