A recent Australian study found that while pharmacist knowledge of complementary medicines is generally OK, there are some major gaps that remain of concern
Researchers from LaTrobe University, Vic, conducted an online survey of pharmacists’ knowledge of a selection of complementary medicines that are defined as having therapeutic benefits in Australian Therapeutic Guidelines. In total 21 questions were asked and 535 complete surveys were returned and included in the final analysis.
They found an average mean score of 62% accurate knowledge among the respondents, meaning pharmacists had a basic knowledge of complementary medicines with a defined clinical effect, but needed specialised training on highly utilised CMs.
Topics in which pharmacists appeared to have poor knowledge included the recognition of vitamin E as a therapy for reducing peripheral neuropathies; recognising an interaction between St John’s Wort and a prescription medicine (25% correct responses) and the required number of fish oil capsules required to obtain a therapeutic effect (29% correct responses).
Respondents did score highly in several areas. Questions with more than 90% correct responses included the recognition of symptoms associated with potassium toxicity; an understanding of vitamin B6 as a treatment option for nausea in pregnancy; the recognition of fat soluble vitamins; the recognition of excess alcohol consumption pertaining to thiamine deficiency; and the necessity of avoiding glucosamine if allergic to shellfish.
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