Author: Emilia Hermelinda Lopera-Pareja – CIEMAT, Spain

Co-author: Carolina Moreno-Castro – University of Valencia

Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) encompass a wide and diverse array of techniques and, although most of them only provide well-being and comfort, others can directly influence health and, consequently, are not exempt of risks. These risks can even lead to death in the case of very serious diseases, such as cancer, if patients abandon conventional therapies to be treated exclusively with alternative ones. At present, there is a heated debate on this issue in Spain whose social evolution and political regulation might depend on how CAM are communicated in the coming years in several spheres of interest such as medicine itself, but also the media and even in formal education. The main objective of this paper is precisely to explore the attitudes and beliefs toward CAM among medicine, nursing, journalism and teaching students in their key role as budding science storytellers in communicating and/or managing the use of these therapies in the near future. For this purpose, a validated Spanish version of the 10-item Complementary and Alternative Medicines Health Belief Questionnaire (CHBQ) -7 point Likert scale- was administered for the first time to a sample of 234 medicine, nursing, journalism and teaching undergraduate students at different universities of Valencia (Spain). Because the maximum score on the CHBQ is 70, a positive attitude toward CAM was predefined as a total mean score of 35. Our results showed positive attitudes among students since the CHBQ overall mean score was 41.7 (standard deviation= 11). On the other hand, journalism and medicine students reported certain degree of criticism or caution -a lower mean score (34.2 and 37.8, respectively)-. These findings can be helpful in addressing CAM management, policymaking and communication processes.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Influencing policies through science communication

Author: Emilia Hermelinda Lopera Pareja, CIEMAT, Spain

Co-author: Carolina Moreno Castro

The media panorama in the Spanish society has changed dramatically over the last decade. The current situation is characterized by an overlapping of news “containers” where traditional printed and audio-visual news outlets coexist with an ever increasing use of exclusive online sources, such as digital versions of traditional media, social networks, blogs and search engines. In the light of this changing context, research on science and technology communication has to go beyond the news content and pay attention to the implications and consequences of these new trends in information source, which might be the case of possible effects on public attitude and perception on controverted and socially debated subjects. The main objective of this paper is therefore to explore the possible relationships between the use of certain sources of information and the perceived effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This research was carried out through the statistical analysis of the data obtained from PIKA Online Survey on Science. PIKA means Perception, Information, Knowledge and Attitudes. The PIKA questionnaire was applied to a sample of 2,138 Spanish college students from March 18 to May 4 in 2014. The questionnaire featured on purpose a specific section to measure perception on pseudoscientific issues and CAM therapies along with another set of questions aimed at further knowing about the consumption of news outlets among digital natives in Spain. After applying different SPSS procedures such as Crosstabs and Standardized Adjusted Residuals, the results show that there is a positive association between higher consumption of certain sources of information, such as internet or TV, and a positive attitude towards the most popular CAM therapies. With respect to online sources, individuals that trust the most popular CAM admitted an extensive use of search engines when looking for information about interesting and scientific topics or technological risk.