Community pharmacists in Australia: barriers to information provision on complementary and alternative medicines
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To determine, by surveying Australian community pharmacists, the perceived barriers to the provision of information about complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) and suggestions for overcoming them.
Anonymous, self-administered survey sent to a random sample of 701 pharmacists registered in three states of Australia in 2004.
Main outcome measure
Pharmacists’ perceived barriers to the provision of information about CAMs.
A total of 344 questionnaires were returned by pharmacists (49% response) of which 211 (30%) were currently practising in community pharmacy. Ninety-five percent of surveyed community pharmacists indicated that they personally received enquires about CAMs, with fewer than 15% reporting they were “very confident” in answering queries about safety, interactions or benefits of CAMs. Frequently used CAM information sources were those from manufacturers and distributors, professional newsletters and journals and textbooks. Pharmacists’ perceived barriers to the provision of CAM information included a lack of suitable training (most training was informal), deficiencies in available information sources, a lack of managerial support, the need for regulatory changes, consumer beliefs about CAM safety and time constraints due to competing demands in daily practice. Pharmacists proposed improvements to overcome these barriers including improvements to training.
There is scope for pharmacy professional organisations and educational institutions to further support pharmacists in their practice through providing information on the best information sources available and training that meets the needs of undergraduate students, pharmacists and other pharmacy staff. There is a need to examine regulatory requirements concerning the provision of product information with CAMs in Australia and to implement mechanisms for increasing consumer awareness of regulatory procedures for these medicines.
KeywordsAustralia Barriers CAMs Community pharmacy Complementary and alternative medicines Consumer information Pharmacists Training
We thank the Pharmacy Boards of South Australia, Victoria and Queensland for their assistance in the mailing of questionnaires. This study was supported with funding from a University of South Australia Collaborative Grant.
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