Pharmacists' personal use, professional practice behaviors, and perceptions regarding herbal and other natural products

Eileen M. Welna, Ronald S. Hadsall, Jon C. Schommer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

63 Scopus citations


Objectives: To characterize pharmacists' personal and family use of, professional practice behaviors regarding, and perceptions of herbal and other natural products (H/NPs), and to ascertain whether these characteristics differ by pharmacists' education, practice setting, and other demographic characteristics. Design: Descriptive study. Setting: Minnesota. Intervention: Cross-sectional questionnaire mailed in June 2000. Participants: A random sample of 1,017 pharmacists with active Minnesota licenses. Results: Of the 533 respondents, 282 (53%) reported personal use of H/NPs, and 240 (45%) reported having recommended H/NPs to a family member. Pharmacists working in community/outpatient settings and pharmacists living in nonurban areas were more likely to report H/NP use. Patients' requests, consumer demand, manufacturer's reputation, and manufacturer's ability to provide product quality data were key factors influencing respondents' decisions to purchase and stock H/NPs in the pharmacy. Trade journals/professional newsletters, continuing education coursework, reference texts, and reports of randomized clinical trials were considered very important sources of information about H/NPs. However, almost all respondents (95%) felt available information on H/NPs was "not adequate" or only "somewhat adequate." Half the pharmacists (51%) believed that H/NPs were safe, but only 19% believed they were effective. Slightly more than half of the respondents (56%) reported suggesting to a patient that he or she try an H/NP. The amount of government oversight of H/NPs was considered "not adequate" by 78% of pharmacists. On average, pharmacists reported that patients ask them questions regarding H/NPs 7 times per 40-hour workweek; other health care practitioners ask an average of 1.3 times per week. Conclusion: Pharmacists' personal use of H/NPs is as high or higher than that of other groups of Americans, and they use similar products. Decisions to stock H/NPs in a pharmacy are influenced by consumer demand and concern for product quality. Pharmacists desire more information on H/NPs and more government oversight of these products, and pharmacists are increasingly being sought out as sources of information regarding H/NPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationJournal of the American Pharmacists Association
PublisherAmerican Pharmacists Association
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2003


  • Alternative medicine
  • Dietary supplements
  • Herbal products
  • Natural products
  • Pharmacist attitudes or perceptions
  • Professional practices
  • Utilization


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