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1.  Bioidentical hormone therapy: Nova Scotia pharmacists' knowledge and beliefs 
Pharmacy Practice  2012;10(3):159-167.
Objective
To investigate Nova Scotia (NS) pharmacists' knowledge and beliefs regarding the use of bioidentical hormones (BHs) for the management of menopause related symptoms.
Methods
Using Dillman’s tailored design methodology, an invitation to complete the web-based questionnaire was emailed to pharmacists in NS as part of the Dalhousie College of Pharmacy Continuing Pharmacy Education Department's (CPE) weekly email update. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics.
Results
Of approximately 1300 e-mails sent, 113 pharmacists completed the questionnaire (response rate 8.7%). The majority of respondents (94%) knew that BHs were not free from adverse drug reactions. More than 50% were aware that conjugated equine estrogens and medroxyprogesterone acetate were not examples of BHs. For seven of eleven knowledge questions, 33-45% indicated that they did not know the answer. When asked about their beliefs regarding BHs, many believed that BHs were similar in efficacy (49%) or more effective (21%) than conventional hormone therapy (CHT) for vasomotor symptoms. Most respondents also believed that both BHs and CHT had similar safety profiles. Additionally, responding pharmacists indicated that more education would be helpful, especially in the area of safety and efficacy of BHTs compared to CHT.
Conclusions
NS pharmacists knew BHs were not free of adverse effects, however knowledge was lacking in other areas. This may reflect the level of coverage of this topic in pharmacy school curriculums and in the pharmacy literature. Results indicate a need for additional education of NS pharmacists with respect to BHs, which could be accomplished through modification of undergraduate pharmacy programs and supplementary CPE.
PMCID: PMC3780489  PMID: 24155832
Pharmacists; Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice; Estradiol Congeners; Menopause; Canada
2.  Core Competencies in Natural Health Products for Canadian Pharmacy Students 
Objective
To reach consensus on core competency statements for natural health products (NHPs) for Canadian pharmacy students.
Methods
Four rounds of a modified Delphi method were used to achieve consensus on core competency statements for NHPs. Pharmacy educators from Canada and the United States, and representatives from Canadian pharmacy organizations ranked their agreement using a 5-point Likert scale.
Results
Consensus was achieved on 3 NHP-related core competency statements: (1) to incorporate NHP knowledge when providing pharmaceutical care; (2) to access and critically appraise NHP-related information sources; and (3) to provide appropriate education to patients and other health care providers on the effectiveness, potential adverse effects, and drug interactions of NHPs.
Conclusions
Consensus was reached among leaders in NHP education on 3 NHP-related core competency statements. Implementation of these competencies would ensure that graduating Canadian pharmacists would be able to fulfill their professional responsibilities related to NHPs.
PMCID: PMC2865411  PMID: 20498738
natural health products (NHPs); competencies; Delphi method; complementary and alternative medicine; herbal medicine
3.  Development and evaluation of an instrument for the critical appraisal of randomized controlled trials of natural products 
Background
The efficacy of natural products (NPs) is being evaluated using randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with increasing frequency, yet a search of the literature did not identify a widely accepted critical appraisal instrument developed specifically for use with NPs. The purpose of this project was to develop and evaluate a critical appraisal instrument that is sufficiently rigorous to be used in evaluating RCTs of conventional medicines, and also has a section specific for use with single entity NPs, including herbs and natural sourced chemicals.
Methods
Three phases of the project included: 1) using experts and a Delphi process to reach consensus on a list of items essential in describing the identity of an NP; 2) compiling a list of non-NP items important for evaluating the quality of an RCT using systematic review methodology to identify published instruments and then compiling item categories that were part of a validated instrument and/or had empirical evidence to support their inclusion and 3) conducting a field test to compare the new instrument to a published instrument for usefulness in evaluating the quality of 3 RCTs of a NP and in applying results to practice.
Results
Two Delphi rounds resulted in a list of 15 items essential in describing NPs. Seventeen item categories fitting inclusion criteria were identified from published instruments for conventional medicines. The new assessment instrument was assembled based on content of the two lists and the addition of a Reviewer's Conclusion section. The field test of the new instrument showed good criterion validity. Participants found it useful in translating evidence from RCTs to practice.
Conclusion
A new instrument for the critical appraisal of RCTs of NPs was developed and tested. The instrument is distinct from other available assessment instruments for RCTs of NPs in its systematic development and validation. The instrument is ready to be used by pharmacy students, health care practitioners and academics and will continue to be refined as required.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-9-11
PMCID: PMC2687413  PMID: 19389240
4.  Canadian Pharmacy Students' Knowledge of Herbal Medicine 
Objective
To determine fourth-year Canadian pharmacy students' knowledge of herbal medicine and whether that knowledge is associated with mandatory instruction in herbal medicine.
Methods
Standardized multiple-choice tests assessing students' herbal knowledge were distributed to all fourth-year BSc pharmacy students at 5 pharmacy schools in Canada.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
PMCID: PMC2576414  PMID: 19002275
herbal supplements; complementary and alternative medicine; assessment
5.  Exploring consumer and pharmacist views on the professional role of the pharmacist with respect to natural health products: a study of focus groups 
Background
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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.
Conclusion
This paper demonstrates that consumers' expectations and behaviour significantly impact pharmacists' perceptions of their professional responsibilities with respect to NHPs.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-40
PMCID: PMC2483265  PMID: 18625059
6.  Evaluating the Quality of Randomized Controlled Trials that Examine the Efficacy of Natural Health Products: A Systematic Review of Critical Appraisal Instruments 
The purpose of this project was to conduct a systematic review to identify instruments designed to evaluate the quality of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of natural health products (NHPs). Instruments were examined for inclusion of items assessing methods, identity and content of the NHP, generalizability of results and instructions for use. Online databases, websites, textbooks and reference lists were searched to identify instruments. Relevance assessment and data extraction of articles were completed by two investigators and disagreements were settled by the third investigator. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Of the 4442 citations identified, 29 were potentially relevant with 16 meeting the criteria for inclusion. None of the instruments stated they were validated; content in the four areas of interest varied considerably. The most common items included randomization sequence generation (100%), blinding (100%), allocation concealment (75%) and participant flow (75%). Only nine of the NHP instruments included at least one item to appraise the specific content of the NHP. The CONSORT Statement for Herbal Interventions most closely addressed the four areas of interest; however, this instrument was specific for herbs. There is a need for the development of a validated instrument for assessment of the quality of RCTs that would be useful for herbs as well as other NHPs.
doi:10.1093/ecam/nem186
PMCID: PMC2781780  PMID: 18955310
Checklists; herbs; quality assessment

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