Comparing scientific worldviews between allopathic medical degree and East Asian medicine degree students utilizing the thinking about science survey instrument (TSSI)

Saikaew Dudla, Patrick D. Herron, Paul R. Marantz, Felise B. Milan, Corbin Campbell, Belinda J. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Integrative medicine has become a new healthcare model due to the growing evidence base for complementary and integrative therapies. However, some question whether complementary and integrative therapies can truly be integrated with biomedicine due to differences in underlying paradigms and theoretical bases. This study aimed to explore differences in scientific worldviews between students studying East Asian medicine and those completing an allopathic medical degree using the validated Thinking about Science Survey Instrument (TSSI). Methods: 122 medical students from Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Einstein) and 48 East Asian medicine students from the Pacific College of Health and Science (Pacific College) participated in this study. Participants completed the TSSI, a 60-item Likert-scale instrument that quantitatively measures the sociocultural resistance to, and support for science. Item and category means were compared between each group using an independent sample t-test. Results: Distinct differences were seen between the two groups of students with regard to age, gender distribution and prior education. Einstein students were generally supportive of science and Pacific College students were generally supportive of/positively neutral to science. Einstein students more strongly affirmed the relationship of science in relation to the categories of Epistemology, Public Health, Emotion and Aesthetics, the Economy, and Public Policy. Pacific College students more strongly affirmed the relationship between science and the category Race and Gender. There were no differences in the categories of Environment and Resource, Science for All, and Religion and Morality. Conclusion: This study suggests that there are differences underlying the scientific worldviews of Einstein and Pacific College students, particularly with regard to Epistemology and Public Health. Such differences may be related to the different theoretical knowledge bases and ways of viewing health within the two disciplines. Despite demographic and educational differences between the two groups their overall scientific worldviews were similar with neither group expressing disparate views. This suggests that both groups may be receptive to the value of other paradigms. Providing courses that focus on different therapeutic approaches and paradigms during medical training may foster interprofessional understanding and collaborative practice between health professionals of different medical disciplines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number546
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Complementary and integrative health
  • East Asian medicine
  • Epistemology
  • Integrative medicine
  • Medical education
  • Scientific worldviews

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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