Use of and Communication about Dietary Supplements Among Hospitalized Patients

  • Laura A. Young
  • Keturah R. Faurot
  • Susan A. Gaylord
Brief Report

DOI: 10.1007/s11606-008-0890-8

Cite this article as:
Young, L.A., Faurot, K.R. & Gaylord, S.A. J GEN INTERN MED (2009) 24: 366. doi:10.1007/s11606-008-0890-8



Use of dietary supplements (DS) is common in the United States; however little is known about the use of DS specifically in hospitalized patients.


The goal of this study is to begin to characterize trends in DS use by hospitalized patients and to assess the degree of patient–physician communication about use of DS that occurs during hospitalization.


This is a cross-sectional, observational pilot study.


Participants were admitted to the general internal medicine or geriatrics service by house staff residents; those ≥ 18 years of age who were medically stable, cognitively intact and fluent in English and/or Spanish were invited to participate in the study.


Nearly 80% of hospitalized patients reported use of DS, with 52% reporting use of non-vitamin/non-mineral DS. During the admission process, physicians documented inquiring about DS use only 20% of the time. While the majority of patients had no concern about temporarily discontinuing their DS during hospitalization, 13% of patients reported that they believed there was nothing wrong with continued use of DS while hospitalized regardless of the recommendations provided by their inpatient physicians.


Use of DS in hospitalized patients is common, and communication between patients and physicians regarding their use is limited.


dietary supplementspatient–physician communicationcomplementary and alternative medicine

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura A. Young
    • 1
    • 3
  • Keturah R. Faurot
    • 2
  • Susan A. Gaylord
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationUniversity of North Carolina School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Clinical Associate Faculty in Endocrinology, Diabetes and MetabolismOne Maloney Building, Endocrinology PracticePhiladelphiaUSA