Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) utilization is dramatically increasing among patients. As community pharmacies are a major provider of CAM products, community pharmacists need to have the sufficient knowledge and information to advice their patients, answer their inquiries and to be proactive in the healthcare process to ensure optimal therapy outputs and minimize both drug-drug and drug-herb interactions. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to assess the knowledge, beliefs, and practices of community pharmacists in Palestine about CAM.
The study was conducted in a cross-sectional design in which a questionnaire was administered on a sample of licensed community pharmacists from Palestine. The questionnaire was of 5 sections: demographic and practice details of the participants, practice, beliefs, and knowledge about CAM. Mann-Whitney-U or Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to comparison of different issues as appropriate. P-values of <0.05 were considered significant.
A total of 284 community pharmacists were surveyed, however, 281 were included in the analysis as they met inclusion criteria. Out of the 281, 149 (53.0%) of the participants were males and the rest were females. About 40% of the participants were between 20 to 29 years old. Pharmacists frequently recommended CAM modalities. Exercises (84.0%) and food supplements (82.6%) were the most commonly recommended modalities. In the last year, vitamin B12 was the most frequently prescribed supplement. The median knowledge score was 5 out of 8 and the median beliefs about CAM score was 4.0 out of 7.0.
CAM recommendations by pharmacists appear to be commonplace. Although their knowledge scores were fair to average, pharmacists still need more education and training about CAM in order to be more qualified to provide better pharmaceutical care and improve their patient’s outcome.