The Role and Influence of Traditional and Scientific Knowledge in Naturopathic Education: A Qualitative Study

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2019, 25 (2), pp. 196 - 201
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© 2019, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Objectives: To explore the perceptions, experiences, and attitudes toward scientific and traditional knowledge within contemporary naturopathic education. Design: A qualitative focus group and semistructured individual interview study. Settings/Location: Naturopathic educational organizations and institutions in North America (United States/Canada) and Australia. Subjects: Seven focus groups (three in Australia and four in the United States/Canada) involving a total of 29 students, and one-on-one interviews with 28 faculty and professional leaders of the naturopathic profession from Australia, Canada, and the United States. Results: Four themes have been identified in this study, including finding the balance between traditional and scientific knowledge; supporting the balance through critical appraisal in the curriculum; the exception of traditional knowledge in the critical gaze; and focusing on critical thinking in the naturopathic curriculum. Both naturopathic students and leaders highlight the significance of balancing tradition and science in the naturopathic educational context, although they hold diverse differing viewpoints. The importance of critical appraisal skills as well as the differentiation between critical thinking and critical appraisal have also been emphasized by participants with regard to the future development of naturopathic curriculum. Conclusions: This is the first study focusing on the interface between traditional and scientific knowledge within the naturopathic education setting. The development of a framework for the critical appraisal of traditional naturopathic knowledge is required to help navigate the variety of knowledge sources available to naturopathic students and to help deliver the best outcomes for their future clinical practice.
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