The teaching of acupuncture is not yet provided by the majority of medical schools in Brazil, despite its recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the fact that it gained recognition as a medical specialization by the National Medical Council in 1995. Acupuncture is also increasingly offered by the Brazilian Unified Health System (UHS), particularly since the implementation of National Politics on Complementary and Integrative Practices (2006), with its usage among both health professionals and patients on the rise. This study aims to analyze awareness, interest and experience in acupuncture among medical students from a southeastern Brazilian medical school. By means of a prospective and descriptive study held from August 2011 to July 2012, questionnaires containing seventeen questions on acupuncture awareness, interest and usage were distributed to 458 students ranging from first to sixth year. The awareness of acupuncture declared by the students was little to none, with students who did profess an awareness of the discipline mostly informed by means of free self-study. The research demonstrated that there is strong interest among students to learn about acupuncture and to include it on the medical curriculum, with it currently an optional subject chosen by the majority of students. The majority of students interviewed had been treated with acupuncture themselves and/or had relatives that had been treated with it, with favorable results. In terms of acceptance, the majority of students would not only accept acupuncture treatment, but would also encourage it. In conclusion, medical students demonstrated both an interest in and unfamiliarity with acupuncture. The implementation of the discipline as a subject on the medical curriculum would receive support among students and prove essential to placing them into contact with this specialization, thus contributing to a much needed update to the curriculum taught in Brazilian medical schools.
Acupuncture Therapy; Medical Education; Complementary Therapies