Pharmacy students' knowledge, attitudes and use of complementary and alternative medicines

Lezley-Anne Hanna, Maurice Hall, Kathryn McKibbin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction/background Within the United Kingdom (UK), there has been limited research conducted with pharmacy students in relation to Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), yet this is an important area of practice. This study aimed to investigate students' knowledge, attitudes, and use of CAM. Methods Following ethical approval, pharmacy students (n = 569) were invited to complete a pre-piloted self-completed electronic questionnaire (21 questions on CAM). Descriptive statistics and Mann–Whitney U test were used for data analyses. Results A 59.0% response rate was obtained [30.0% male and 70.0% female], and 68.5% reported that they never used CAM. Training was welcomed; attitudes toward CAM differed between students who had been taught about it and those who had not been taught. Of all respondents, 13.6% considered that CAM was safer than orthodox medicines (CAM users were more likely to agree than non-users; P < 0.001, z = 5.688), 65.6% thought that most CAMs lacked robust evidence of effectiveness, and 88.4% deemed that pharmacists should be able to provide evidence-based information about CAM. However, 67.1% considered that regardless of evidence, CAM was useful in practice. Discussion/conclusions Despite being aware of safety issues and expecting a pharmacist to be able to provide patients with accurate information on CAM, students considered that CAM was valuable regardless of evidence of effectiveness. Additionally, while the use of CAM was not extensive, users were more likely to have positive opinions than non-users. Training was valued and seemed to influence opinions. Further work could investigate if CAM training and personal use influence the quality of advice given to patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-525
JournalCurrents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning
Issue number6
Early online date23 Sep 2013
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


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