Attitudes of Australian pharmacists towards complementary and alternative medicines

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The increase in the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by the general public has led to increasing interest in how health professionals view these therapies. OBJECTIVE: To determine the knowledge and attitudes of pharmacists toward CAM. METHODS: An anonymous, self-administered questionnaire was designed and mailed to 1500 randomly selected pharmacists in New South Wales, Australia. RESULTS: Four hundred eighty-four responses were received, with 77% of respondents indicating that they had personally used CAM and 60% correctly identifying that CAM was comprised of more than just botanicals and nutritional agents. The most commonly used CAMs were herbal and vitamin supplements (74%), which was significantly above use of the next most frequent CAM, massage therapy (6%). Most pharmacists (71%) reported offering CAM products for sale; however, 27% of these practices did not have access to CAM information for pharmacy staff or patients. Pharmacists generally viewed CAM positively and believed that they enhanced the customers' image of pharmacy (57%), increased customer numbers (87%), and could increase annual sales (72%). Ninety-one percent of respondents believed that it is necessary for pharmacists to have knowledge of both CAM and conventional medicine to be able to inform patients about their treatment options. Books and journal articles were their primary information sources, with the main reasons for recommending CAM evidence of efficacy and to maintain general health. CONCLUSIONS: CAM use is prevalent among Australian pharmacists. While pharmacists are aware of their role as educators about both CAM and conventional medicines, there is a need for greater access to CAM resources and education on these therapies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1456-1461
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Volume39
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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