[PDF] Perceptions, use and attitudes of pharmacy customers on complementary medicines and pharmacy practice

Medicines Management Collection
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Publication date:
10 September 2010


Background: Complementary medicines (CMs) are popular amongst Australians and community pharmacy is a major supplier of these products.  This study explores pharmacy customer use, attitudes and perceptions of complementary medicines, and their expectations of pharmacists as they relate to these products. Methods: Pharmacy customers randomly selected from 60 large and small, metropolitan and rural pharmacies in three Australian states completed an anonymous, self administered questionnaire that had been pre-tested and validated. Results: 1121 customers participated (response rate 62%).  72% had used CMs within the previous 12 months, 61% used prescription medicines daily and 43% had used both concomitantly.  Multivitamins, fish oils, vitamin C, glucosamine and probiotics were the 5 most popular CMs.  72% of people using CMs rated their products as 'very effective' or 'effective enough'.  CMs were as frequently used by customers aged 60 years or older as younger customers (69% vs 72%) although the pattern of use shifted with older age. Most customers (92%) thought pharmacists should provide safety information about CMs, 90% thought they should routinely check for interactions, 87% thought they should recommend effective CMs, 78% thought CMs should be recorded in customer's medication profile and 58% thought pharmacies stocking CMs should also employ a complementary medicine practitioner.  Of those using CMs, 93% thought it important for pharmacists to be knowledgeable about CMs and 48% felt their pharmacist provides useful information about CMs. Conclusions: CMs are widely used by pharmacy customers of all ages who want pharmacists to be more involved in providing advice about these products.