To determine fourth-year Canadian pharmacy students' knowledge of herbal medicine and whether that knowledge is associated with mandatory instruction in herbal medicine.
Standardized multiple-choice tests assessing students' herbal knowledge were distributed to all fourth-year BSc pharmacy students at 5 pharmacy schools in Canada.
The Quebec response rate was too low to include in the analysis. Herbal knowledge test scores were positively associated with having previously taken an herbal medicine class and completion of a pharmacy practicum. However, postsecondary education, age, and gender were not associated with herbal knowledge test scores. Students at the University of British Columbia had the highest score, followed by Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Ontario.
Pharmacy students' knowledge of herbal medicine varies depending on the school attended and higher herbal knowledge test scores appear to be most closely related to mandatory herbal instruction.
herbal supplements; complementary and alternative medicine; assessment
Natural health products (NHPs) such as herbs, vitamins and homeopathic medicines, are currently available for sale in most Canadian pharmacies. However, most pharmacists report that they have limited knowledge about these products which have been regulated in Canada as a specific sub-category of drugs. In this paper, consumers' and practicing pharmacists' perceptions of pharmacists' professional responsibilities with respect to NHPs are examined.
A total of 16 focus groups were conducted with consumers (n = 50) and pharmacists (n = 47) from four different cities across Canada (Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Halifax).
In this paper, we illustrate the ways in which pharmacists' professional responsibilities are impacted by changing consumer needs. Many consumers in the study utilized a wide range of information resources that may or may not have included pharmacists. Nevertheless, the majority of consumers and pharmacists agreed that pharmacists should be knowledgeable about NHPs and felt that pharmacists should be able to manage drug-NHPs interactions as well as identify and evaluate the variety of information available to help consumers make informed decisions.
This paper demonstrates that consumers' expectations and behaviour significantly impact pharmacists' perceptions of their professional responsibilities with respect to NHPs.
Integrative medicine (blending the best of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) with conventional medicine) is becoming increasingly popular.
The objectives of this paper are to compare and contrast the development of two teams that set out to establish integrative medical clinics, highlighting key issues found to be common to both settings, and to identify factors that appear to be necessary for integration to occur.
At St Michael's Hospital (an inner-city teaching hospital in Toronto, Canada), a total of 42 interviews were conducted between February 2004 and August 2006 wi18 key participants (4 administrators, 2 chiropractors, 2 physiotherapists and 10 family physicians). At the CARE (Complementary and Alternative Research and Education) Program at Stollery Children's Hospital, Edmonton, Canada, 44 interviews were conducted with 24 people on four occasions: June 2004, March 2005, November 2006, and June 2007. Basic content analysis was used to identify the key themes from the transcribed interviews.
Despite the contextual differences between the two programs, a striking number of similar themes emerged from the data. The five most important shared themes were: 1) the necessity of "champions" and institutional facilitators to conceive of, advocate for, and bring the programs to fruition; 2) the credibility of these champions and facilitators (and the credibility of the program being established) was key to the acceptance and growth of the program in each setting; 3) the ability to find the "right" practitioners and staff to establish the integrative team was crucial to each program's ultimate success; 4) the importance of trust (both the trustworthiness of the developing program as well as the trust that developed between the practitioners in the integrative team); and 5) the challenge of finding physical space to house the programs.
The programs were ultimately successful because of the credibility of the champions, institutional facilitators and the staff members. Selection of excellent clinicians who were able to work well as a team facilitated the establishment of trust both within the team itself as well as between the team and the host institution.
Vitiligo is a hypopigmentation disorder affecting 1 to 4% of the world population. Fifty percent of cases appear before the age of 20 years old, and the disfigurement results in psychiatric morbidity in 16 to 35% of those affected.
Our objective was to complete a comprehensive, systematic review of the published scientific literature to identify natural health products (NHP) such as vitamins, herbs and other supplements that may have efficacy in the treatment of vitiligo. We searched eight databases including MEDLINE and EMBASE for vitiligo, leucoderma, and various NHP terms. Prospective controlled clinical human trials were identified and assessed for quality.
Fifteen clinical trials were identified, and organized into four categories based on the NHP used for treatment. 1) L-phenylalanine monotherapy was assessed in one trial, and as an adjuvant to phototherapy in three trials. All reported beneficial effects. 2) Three clinical trials utilized different traditional Chinese medicine products. Although each traditional Chinese medicine trial reported benefit in the active groups, the quality of the trials was poor. 3) Six trials investigated the use of plants in the treatment of vitiligo, four using plants as photosensitizing agents. The studies provide weak evidence that photosensitizing plants can be effective in conjunction with phototherapy, and moderate evidence that Ginkgo biloba monotherapy can be useful for vitiligo. 4) Two clinical trials investigated the use of vitamins in the therapy of vitiligo. One tested oral cobalamin with folic acid, and found no significant improvement over control. Another trial combined vitamin E with phototherapy and reported significantly better repigmentation over phototherapy only. It was not possible to pool the data from any studies for meta-analytic purposes due to the wide difference in outcome measures and poor quality ofreporting.
Reports investigating the efficacy of NHPs for vitiligo exist, but are of poor methodological quality and contain significant reporting flaws. L-phenylalanine used with phototherapy, and oral Ginkgo biloba as monotherapy show promise and warrant further investigation.
Natural health products such as herbs, vitamins and homeopathic medicines are widely available in Canadian pharmacies.
to conduct a systematic analysis of Canadian pharmacy policies and guidelines to explore pharmacists’ professional responsibilities with respect to natural health products.
Legislation, codes of ethics, standards of practice and guidance documents that apply to the practice of pharmacy in each Canadian jurisdiction were systematically collected and examined to identify if, and how, these instruments establish professional duties in regard to natural health products.
The majority of Canadian jurisdictions now include some explicit reference to natural health products in standards of practice policy or guideline documents. Often natural health products are simply assumed to be included in the over-the-counter (OTC) product category and thus professional responsibilities for OTCs are relevant for natural health products. A minority of provinces have specific policies on natural health products, herbals or homeopathy. In addition, the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities’ Model Standards of Practice specifically refers to natural health products. Most policy documents indicate that pharmacists should inquire about natural health product use when counselling patients and, when asked, should provide accurate information regarding the efficacy, toxicity, side effects or interactions of natural health products. Public messaging also indicates that pharmacists are knowledgeable professionals who can provide evidence-based information about natural health products.
Explicit policies or guidelines regarding pharmacists’ professional responsibilities with respect to natural health products currently exist in the majority of Canadian jurisdictions.
Natural health products; Practice Guidelines as Topic; Pharmacists; Canada
The purpose of this constructivist grounded theory study was to develop a theoretical model that explains women's processes of managing diagnosed depression when pregnant.
We explored the experiences of 19 women in Ontario who were diagnosed with depression during their pregnancy.
The model that emerged from the analysis was becoming the best mom that I can. Becoming the best mom that I can explains the complex process of the women's journey as they travel from the depths of despair, where the depression is perceived to threaten their pregnancy and their ability to care for the coming baby, to arrive at knowing the self and being in a better place. In order to reground the self and regain control of their lives, the women had to recognize the problem, overcome shame and embarrassment, identify an understanding healthcare provider, and consider the consequences of the depression and its management. When confronting and confining the threat of depression, the women employed strategies of overcoming barriers, gaining knowledge, and taking control. As a result of counseling, medication, or a combination of both, women felt that they had arrived at a better place.
For many women, the idea that depression could occur during pregnancy was antithetical to their vision of the pregnant self. The challenge for a pregnant woman who is diagnosed with depression, is that effective care for her may jeopardize her baby's future health. This provides a dilemma for about-to-be parents and their healthcare providers. Improved awareness of depression during pregnancy on the part of healthcare professionals is needed to improve the women's understanding of this disorder and their ability to recognize and seek help with depression should it occur during the prenatal period. Further qualitative research is needed to determine the specific aspects that need to be addressed in such classes.
The purpose of this paper is to bring clarity to the emerging conceptual and methodological literature that focuses on understanding and evaluating complex or ‘whole’ systems of healthcare. An international working group reviewed literature from interdisciplinary or interprofessional groups describing approaches to the evaluation of complex systems of healthcare. The following four key approaches were identified: a framework from the MRC (UK), whole systems research, whole medical systems research described by NCCAM (USA) and a model from NAFKAM (Norway). Main areas of congruence include acknowledgment of the inherent complexity of many healthcare interventions and the need to find new ways to evaluate these; the need to describe and understand the components of complex interventions in context (as they are actually practiced); the necessity of using mixed methods including randomized clinical trials (RCTs) (explanatory and pragmatic) and qualitative approaches; the perceived benefits of a multidisciplinary team approach to research; and the understanding that methodological developments in this field can be applied to both complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as well as conventional therapies. In contrast, the approaches differ in the following ways: terminology used, the extent to which the approach attempts to be applicable to both CAM and conventional medical interventions; the prioritization of research questions (in order of what should be done first) especially with respect to how the ‘definitive’ RCT fits into the process of assessing complex healthcare systems; and the need for a staged approach. There appears to be a growing international understanding of the need for a new perspective on assessing complex healthcare systems.
complex interventions; research methods; whole systems research
This qualitative study explores corporations' motivations to comply with new natural health products (NHP) Regulations in Canada. Interviews were conducted with representatives from 20 Canadian NHP companies. Findings show that the rationale for compliance differs for large compared to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Large firms are motivated to comply with the regulations because of the deterrent fear of negative media coverage, social motivations, ability to comply and maintaining a competitive market advantage. In contrast, SMEs are motivated to comply due to the deterrent fear of legal prosecution and a sense of duty.
dietary supplements; herbs; policy
Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by women with breast cancer is often said to be increasing, yet few data exist to confirm this commonly held belief.
The purpose of this paper is to compare overall patterns of CAM use, as well as use of specific products and therapies at two different points in time (1998 vs 2005) by women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Surveys were mailed to women randomly selected from the Ontario Cancer Registry (Canada) in the spring of 1998 (n = 557) and again in the spring of 2005(n = 877).
The response rates were 76.3% in 1998 and 63% in 2005. In 1998, 66.7% of women reported using either a CAM product/therapy or seeing a CAM therapist at some time in their lives as compared with 81.9% in 2005 (p = 0.0002). Increases were seen in both use of CAM products/therapies (62% in 1998 vs. 70.6% in 2005) and visits to CAM practitioners (39.4% of respondents in 1998 vs 57.4% of respondents in 2005). Women in 2005 reported that 41% used CAM for treating their breast cancer. The most commonly used products and practitioners for treating breast cancer as reported in 2005 were green tea, vitamin E, flaxseed, vitamin C, massage therapists and dietitians/nutritionists.
CAM use (both self-medication with products and visits to CAM practitioners) increased significantly from 1998 to 2005. Now that more than 80% of all women with breast cancer report using CAM (41% in a specific attempt to management their breast cancer), CAM use can no longer be regarded as an "alternative" or unusual approach to managing breast cancer.
More than half of all Canadians use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) every year. The way CAM is being used, the magnitude of its use and the lack of clarity on standards of evidence make CAM a rising healthcare issue. A recent research priority-setting exercise by the Canadian Interdisciplinary Network for CAM Research (IN-CAM) identified three research priority areas: (1) healthcare delivery and policy research, including (a) exploring if and how CAM should be regulated, (b) defining what constitutes acceptable evidence of safety and efficacy, (c) investigating the organization and delivery of integrative healthcare; (2) methodological research, including exploring how best to assess whole systems of care and how to choose patient-, practitioner- and policy-relevant outcome measures; and (3) knowledge transfer, including formal education strategies, the provision of information and dialogue with those who use information in decision-making. The high use of CAM products and therapies leads to many questions from patients, practitioners and policy makers. The research agenda presented here provides a guide to begin programs of research that will answer these questions.
Homeopathy has been the cause of much debate in the scientific literature with respect to the plausibility and efficacy of homeopathic preparations and practice. Nonetheless, many consumers, pharmacists, physicians, and other health care providers continue to use or practice homeopathic medicine and advocate its safety and efficacy. As drug experts, pharmacists are expected to be able to counsel their patients on how to safely and effectively use medications, which technically includes homeopathic products. Yet many pharmacists feel that the homeopathic system of medicine is based on unscientific theories that lack supporting evidence. Since consumers continue to use homeopathic products, it is necessary for pharmacists to have a basic knowledge of homeopathy and to be able to counsel patients about its general use, the current state of the evidence and its use in conjunction with other medications.
homeopathy; pharmacist; education; complimentary and alternative medicine
To explore the strengths and weaknesses of conventional biomedical research strategies and methods as applied to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and to suggest a new research framework for assessing these treatment modalities.
There appears to be a gap between published studies showing little or no efficacy of CAM, and reports of substantial clinical benefit from patients and CAM practitioners. This "gap" might be partially due to the current focus on placebo-controlled randomized trials, which are appropriately designed to answer questions about the efficacy and safety of pharmaceutical agents. In an attempt to fit this assessment strategy, complex CAM treatment approaches have been dissected into standardized and often simplified treatment methods, and outcomes have been limited.
Unlike conventional medicine, CAM has no regulatory or financial gatekeeper controlling their therapeutic "agents" before they are marketed. Treatments may thus be in widespread use before researchers know of their existence. In addition, the treatments are often provided as an integrated 'whole system' of care, without careful consideration of the safety issue.
We propose a five-phase strategy for assessing CAM built on the acknowledgement of the inherent, unique aspects of CAM treatments and their regulatory status in most Western countries. These phases comprise:
1. Context, paradigms, philosophical understanding and utilization
2. Safety status
3. Comparative effectiveness.
4. Component efficacy
5. Biological mechanisms.
Using the proposed strategy will generate evidence relevant to clinical practice, while acknowledging the absence of regulatory and financial gatekeepers for CAM. It will also emphasize the important but subtle differences between CAM and conventional medical practice.
Although dietary supplements (DS) are widely sold in pharmacies, the legal, ethical, and practice responsibilities of pharmacists with respect to these products have not been well defined. This systematic review of pharmacists' attitudes, knowledge, and professional practice behaviours toward DS is intended to inform pharmacy regulators' and educators' decision making around this topic.
Eligible studies were identified through a systematic database search for all available years through to March 2006. Articles were analyzed for this review if they included survey data on U.S. or Canadian pharmacists' attitudes, knowledge, or professional practice behaviors toward DS published in 1990 or later.
Due to the heterogeneity of the data, it was not possible to draw a conclusion with respect to pharmacists' general attitudes toward DS. Approximately equal numbers of pharmacists report positive as well as negative attitudes about the safety and efficacy of DS. There is strong agreement among pharmacists for the need to have additional training on DS, increased regulation of DS, and quality information on DS. In addition, survey data indicate that pharmacists do not perceive their knowledge of DS to be adequate and that pharmacists do not routinely document, monitor, or inquire about patients' use of DS. Despite this, a large proportion of pharmacists reported receiving questions about DS from patients and other health care practitioners.
Further research is needed to explore the factors that influence pharmacists' beliefs and attitudes about DS, to accurately evaluate pharmacists' knowledge of DS, and to uncover the reasons why pharmacists do not routinely document, monitor, or inquire about patients' use of DS.
The use of natural health products, such as vitamins, minerals, and herbs, by Canadians has been increasing with time. As a result of consumer concern about the quality of these products, the Canadian Department of Health created the Natural Health Products (NHP) Regulations. The new Canadian regulations raise questions about whether and how the NHP industry will be able to comply and what impact they will have on market structure. The objectives of this study were to explore who in the interview sample is complying with Canada's new NHP Regulations (i.e., submitted product licensing applications on time); and explore the factors that affect regulatory compliance.
Twenty key informant interviews were conducted with employees of the NHP industry. The structured interviews focused on the level of satisfaction with the Regulations and perceptions of compliance and non-compliance. Interviews were tape recorded and then transcribed verbatim. Data were independently coded, using qualitative content analysis. Team meetings were held after every three to four interviews to discuss emerging themes.
The major finding of this study is that most (17 out of 20) companies interviewed were beginning to comply with the new regulatory regime. The factors that contribute to likelihood of regulatory compliance were: perceptions and knowledge of the regulations and business size.
The Canadian case can be instructive for other countries seeking to implement regulatory standards for natural health products. An unintended consequence of the Canadian NHP regulations may be the exit of smaller firms, leading to industry consolidation.
New Canadian policy to regulate natural health products (NHPs), such as herbs and vitamins were implemented on January 1st, 2004. We explored complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners' perceptions of how the new regulations may affect their practices and relationships with patients/consumers.
This was an applied ethnographic study. Data were collected in fall 2004 via qualitative interviews with 37 Canadian leaders of four CAM groups that use natural products as a core part of their practises: naturopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), homeopathic medicine and Western herbalism. All interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded independently by a minimum of two investigators using content analysis.
Three key findings emerged from the data: 1) all CAM leaders were concerned with issues of their own access to NHPs; 2) all the CAM leaders, except for the homeopathic leaders, specifically indicated a desire to have a restricted schedule of NHPs; and 3) only naturopathic leaders were concerned the NHP regulations could potentially endanger patients if they self-medicate incorrectly.
Naturopaths, TCM practitioners, homeopaths, and Western herbalists were all concerned about how the new NHP regulations will affect their access to the products they need to practice effectively. Additional research will need to focus on what impacts actually occur as the regulations are implemented more fully.
Patients across North America are using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) with increasing frequency as part of their management of many different health conditions. The objective of this study was to develop a guide for academic health sciences centers that may wish to consider starting an integrative medicine program.
We queried North American leaders in the field of integrative medicine to identify initial sites. Key stakeholders at each of the initial sites visited were then asked to identify additional potential study sites (snowball sampling), until no new sites were identified. We conducted structured interviews to identify critical factors associated with success and failure in each of four domains: research, education, clinical care, and administration. During the interviews, field notes were recorded independently by at least two investigators. Team meetings were held after each visit to reach consensus on the information recorded and to ensure that it was as complete as possible. Content analysis techniques were used to identify key themes that emerged from the field notes.
We identified ten leading North American integrative medical centers, and visited nine during 2002–2003. The centers visited suggested that the initiation of an integrative medicine program requires a significant initial outlay of funding and a motivated "champion". The centers had important information to share regarding credentialing, medico-legal issues and billing for clinical programs; identifying researchers and research projects for a successful research program; and strategies for implementing flexible educational initiatives and establishing a functional administrative structure.
Important lessons can be learned from academic integrative programs already in existence. Such initiatives are timely and feasible in a variety of different ways and in a variety of settings.
Despite the growing use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by consumers in the U.S., little is known about the practice of CAM providers. The objective of this study was to describe and compare the practice patterns of naturopathic physicians in Washington State and Connecticut.
Telephone interviews were conducted with state-wide random samples of licensed naturopathic physicians and data were collected on consecutive patient visits in 1998 and 1999. The main outcome measures were: Sociodemographic, training and practice characteristics of naturopathic physicians; and demographics, reasons for visit, types of treatments, payment source and visit duration for patients.
One hundred and seventy practitioners were interviewed and 99 recorded data on a total of 1817 patient visits. Naturopathic physicians in Washington and Connecticut had similar demographic and practice characteristics. Both the practitioners and their patients were primarily White and female. Almost 75% of all naturopathic visits were for chronic complaints, most frequently fatigue, headache, and back symptoms. Complete blood counts, serum chemistries, lipids panels and stool analyses were ordered for 4% to 10% of visits. All other diagnostic tests were ordered less frequently. The most commonly prescribed naturopathic therapeutics were: botanical medicines (51% of visits in Connecticut, 43% in Washington), vitamins (41% and 43%), minerals (35% and 39%), homeopathy (29% and 19%) and allergy treatments (11% and 13%). The mean visit length was about 40 minutes. Approximately half the visits were paid directly by the patient.
This study provides information that will help other health care providers, patients and policy makers better understand the nature of naturopathic care.
"Integrative health care" has become a common term to describe teams of health care providers working together to provide patient care. However this term has not been well-defined and likely means many different things to different people. The purpose of this paper is to develop a conceptual framework for describing, comparing and evaluating different forms of team-oriented health care practices that have evolved in Western health care systems.
Seven different models of team-oriented health care practice are illustrated in this paper: parallel, consultative, collaborative, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and integrative. Each of these models occupies a position along the proposed continuum from the non-integrative to fully integrative approach they take to patient care. The framework is developed around four key components of integrative health care practice: philosophy/values; structure, process and outcomes.
This framework can be used by patients and health care practitioners to determine what styles of practice meet their needs and by policy makers, healthcare managers and researchers to document the evolution of team practices over time. This framework may also facilitate exploration of the relationship between different practice models and health outcomes.
OBJECTIVE: To explore similarities and differences in patient visits with family physicians (FPs) and naturopathic practitioners (NPs). DESIGN: Exploratory study combining quantitative and qualitative methods. SETTING: Southern Ontario. PARTICIPANTS: A purposeful sample of 10 practitioners (five FPs and five NPs matched for age, sex, and number of years in practice): each agreed to recruit three consecutive patients with new complaints to participate in the study. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Patient and visit characteristics; qualitative (content analysis of audiotaped interactions) and quantitative (ie, patient-centred care scores) information was gathered and analyzed. RESULTS: Qualitative analysis revealed that information gathering and treatment planning were very similar whether patients were visiting FPs or NPs. Most important differences were length of interaction (mean 54 minutes for NPs and 16.5 minutes for FPs) and patients' reasons for visits. Naturopathic practitioners were more likely to recommend medications (usually natural health products) than FPs. Quantitative data suggested that patients perceived no differences in patient-centred care from FPs and NPs. CONCLUSION: Overall, there were more similarities than differences in visits to the two types of practitioners.
Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (NVP) affects two-thirds of pregnant women to varying degrees and over the years many modalities have been used to try to alleviate this often debilitating condition. There is a paucity of information in the literature about the use or efficacy of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for the treatment of this condition that affects so many women. Our primary objective was to examine the prevalence of CAM usage by women suffering from NVP. Our secondary objective was to ascertain if women had any supervision in the use of these treatments.
Women who called The Motherisk NVP helpline, were asked after the counseling session to complete a questionnaire, which included demographic data as well as information about their CAM use.
Seventy women completed the questionnaire. 61% reported using CAM therapies, of which the three most popular were: ginger, vitamin B6 and acupressure. 21% of those who reported using CAM, had consulted CAM practitioners, 8% their physicians or pharmacists and 71% discussed the usage with family, friends and other allied health professionals. Women who did not use CAM stated they would probably use these modalities if there was more information about the safety in pregnancy.
Pregnant women with NVP are mirroring the trend in the general population of the use of CAM. They are also using CAM therapies with little supervision from practitioners experienced in the use of these modalities.