Objective: The objective of the study was to explore the experiences of physicians prescribing gabapentin off label.
Methods: We used a case study approach to explore the experiences of physicians prescribing gabapentin for off-label indications. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 physicians (psychiatry, pain and neurology specialists) in the Greater Toronto Area. Data were collected to the point of saturation of key themes and analyzed using interpretive content analysis.
Key findings: Key informants appeared to rely primarily on informal information from colleagues and meetings, putting into question the accuracy of their information about the potential off-label uses of gabapentin. Our findings suggest the need for more evidence-based information on off-label drug use.
Conclusion: There is a need for greater understanding of off-label prescribing practices as an important step toward improving rational prescribing and ultimately toward improving patient safety and health outcomes.
Over 30% of individuals use natural health products (NHPs) for osteoarthritis-related pain. The Deficit Model for the Public Understanding of Science suggests that if individuals are given more information (especially about scientific evidence) they will make better health-related decisions. In contrast, the Contextual Model argues that scientific evidence is one of many factors that explain how consumers make health-related decisions. The primary objective was to investigate how the level of scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of NHPs impacts consumer decision-making in the self-selection of NHPs by individuals with osteoarthritis.
The means-end chain approach to product evaluation was used to compare laddering interviews with two groups of community-dwelling Canadian seniors who had used NHPs to treat their osteoarthritis. Group 1 (n=13) had used only NHPs (glucosamine and/or chondroitin) with “high” scientific evidence of efficacy. Group 2 (n=12) had used NHPs (methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and/or bromelain) with little or no scientific evidence supporting efficacy. Content analysis and generation of hierarchical value maps facilitated the identification of similarities and differences between the two groups.
The dominant decision-making chains for participants in the two scientific evidence categories were similar. Scientific evidence was an important decision-making factor but not as important as the advice from health care providers, friends and family. Most participants learned about scientific evidence via indirect sources from health care providers and the media.
The Contextual Model of the public understanding of science helps to explain why our participants believed scientific evidence is not the most important factor in their decision to use NHPs to help manage their osteoarthritis.
Natural health products; Decision-making; Means ends chain analysis; Osteoarthritis
Many consumers use natural health products (NHPs) concurrently with prescription medications. As NHP-related harms are under-reported through passive surveillance, the safety of concurrent NHP-drug use remains unknown. To conduct active surveillance in participating community pharmacies to identify adverse events related to concurrent NHP-prescription drug use.
Participating pharmacists asked individuals collecting prescription medications about (i) concurrent NHP/drug use in the previous three months and (ii) experiences of adverse events. If an adverse event was identified and if the patient provided written consent, a research pharmacist conducted a guided telephone interview to gather additional information after obtaining additional verbal consent and documenting so within the interview form. Over a total of 112 pharmacy weeks, 2615 patients were screened, of which 1037 (39.7%; 95% CI: 37.8% to 41.5%) reported concurrent NHP and prescription medication use. A total of 77 patients reported a possible AE (2.94%; 95% CI: 2.4% to 3.7%), which represents 7.4% of those using NHPs and prescription medications concurrently (95%CI: 6.0% to 9.2%). Of 15 patients available for an interview, 4 (26.7%: 95% CI: 4.3% to 49.0%) reported an AE that was determined to be “probably” due to NHP use.
Active surveillance markedly improves identification and reporting of adverse events associated with concurrent NHP-drug use. Although not without challenges, active surveillance is feasible and can generate adverse event data of sufficient quality to allow for meaningful adjudication to assess potential harms.
While there is some consensus on methods for investigating statistical and methodological heterogeneity, little attention has been paid to clinical aspects of heterogeneity. The objective of this study is to summarize and collate suggested methods for investigating clinical heterogeneity in systematic reviews.
We searched databases (Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, and CONSORT, to December 2010) and reference lists and contacted experts to identify resources providing suggestions for investigating clinical heterogeneity between controlled clinical trials included in systematic reviews. We extracted recommendations, assessed resources for risk of bias, and collated the recommendations.
One hundred and one resources were collected, including narrative reviews, methodological reviews, statistical methods papers, and textbooks. These resources generally had a low risk of bias, but there was minimal consensus among them. Resources suggested that planned investigations of clinical heterogeneity should be made explicit in the protocol of the review; clinical experts should be included on the review team; a set of clinical covariates should be chosen considering variables from the participant level, intervention level, outcome level, research setting, or others unique to the research question; covariates should have a clear scientific rationale; there should be a sufficient number of trials per covariate; and results of any such investigations should be interpreted with caution.
Though the consensus was minimal, there were many recommendations in the literature for investigating clinical heterogeneity in systematic reviews. Formal recommendations for investigating clinical heterogeneity in systematic reviews of controlled trials are required.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is commonly used by children, but estimates of that use vary widely partly due to the range of questionnaires used to assess CAM use. However, no studies have attempted to appraise measurement properties of these questionnaires. The aim of this systematic review was to critically appraise and summarize measurement properties of questionnaires of CAM use in pediatrics.
A search strategy was implemented in major electronic databases in March 2011 and conference websites, scientific journals and experts were consulted. Studies were included if they mentioned a questionnaire assessing the prevalence of CAM use in pediatrics. Members of the team independently rated the methodological quality of the studies (using the COSMIN checklist) and measurement properties of the questionnaires (using the Terwee and Cohen criteria).
A total of 96 CAM questionnaires were found in 104 publications. The COSMIN checklist showed that no studies reported adequate methodological quality. The Terwee criteria showed that all included CAM questionnaires had indeterminate measurement properties. According to the Cohen score, none were considered to be a well-established assessment, two approached the level of a well-established assessment, seven were promising assessments and the remainder (n = 87) did not reach the score’s minimum standards.
None of the identified CAM questionnaires have been thoroughly validated. This systematic review highlights the need for proper validation of CAM questionnaires in pediatrics, which may in turn lead to improved research and knowledge translation about CAM in clinical practice.
In meta-regression, as the number of trials in the analyses decreases, the risk of false positives or false negatives increases. This is partly due to the assumption of normality that may not hold in small samples. Creation of a distribution from the observed trials using permutation methods to calculate P values may allow for less spurious findings. Permutation has not been empirically tested in meta-regression. The objective of this study was to perform an empirical investigation to explore the differences in results for meta-analyses on a small number of trials using standard large sample approaches verses permutation-based methods for meta-regression.
We isolated a sample of randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs) for interventions that have a small number of trials (herbal medicine trials). Trials were then grouped by herbal species and condition and assessed for methodological quality using the Jadad scale, and data were extracted for each outcome. Finally, we performed meta-analyses on the primary outcome of each group of trials and meta-regression for methodological quality subgroups within each meta-analysis. We used large sample methods and permutation methods in our meta-regression modeling. We then compared final models and final P values between methods.
We collected 110 trials across 5 intervention/outcome pairings and 5 to 10 trials per covariate. When applying large sample methods and permutation-based methods in our backwards stepwise regression the covariates in the final models were identical in all cases. The P values for the covariates in the final model were larger in 78% (7/9) of the cases for permutation and identical for 22% (2/9) of the cases.
We present empirical evidence that permutation-based resampling may not change final models when using backwards stepwise regression, but may increase P values in meta-regression of multiple covariates for relatively small amount of trials.
Natural health products (natural health products) such as herbs, vitamins and homeopathic medicines are widely available in Canadian pharmacies. The purpose of this paper was 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.
PMID: 22282720 CAMSID: cams1356
pharmacist; legal responsibilities; natural health products; dietary supplements
Immunization injections are the most common painful medical procedures experienced during childhood, yet there is a discrepancy between recommendations for the effective use of topical anesthetics to reduce vaccine injection pain and actual practice.
To improve our understanding of mothers’ experiences and practices regarding their children’s routine immunizations.
Adopting an interpretive, naturalistic paradigm, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 mothers to examine their perceptions and experiences of their children’s immunization pain and pain management.
The findings demonstrated three main themes: attitudes toward immunization pain, immunization pain management and physicians as sources of information. Participants described feeling distressed while their children were being immunized, but most managed these difficulties by focusing on the benefits of immunization and by minimizing or justifying the pain. All of the participants used non-pharmacological techniques to manage immunization injection pain. Few mothers were aware of the availability of topical anesthetics. When participants did use pharmacological analgesic approaches, oral analgesics were most likely to be used for prophylaxis and treatment of fever, and participants were unaware of evidence-based approaches to managing pain. Participants viewed their physicians as trusted sources of information, and the majority said that they would likely use a topical anesthetic in the future if recommended or approved by their physician.
The present findings provide direction for future knowledge translation activities to enhance the knowledge of mothers and clinicians regarding pain during immunization injections and its effective management.
Child; Immunization; Infant; Pain management; Qualitative research; Topical anesthetics
Vitiligo is a common hypopigmentation disorder with significant psychological impact if occurring before adulthood. A pilot clinical trial to determine the feasibility of an RCT was conducted and is reported here.
12 participants 12 to 35 years old were recruited to a prospective open-label pilot trial and treated with 60 mg of standardized G. biloba two times per day for 12 weeks. The criteria for feasibility included successful recruitment, 75% or greater retention, effectiveness and lack of serious adverse reactions. Effectiveness was assessed using the Vitiligo Area Scoring Index (VASI) and the Vitiligo European Task Force (VETF), which are validated outcome measures evaluating the area and intensity of depigmentation of vitiligo lesions. Other outcomes included photographs and adverse reactions. Safety was assessed by serum coagulation factors (platelets, PTT, INR) at baseline and week 12.
After 2 months of recruitment, the eligible upper age limit was raised from 18 to 35 years of age in order to facilitate recruitment of the required sample size. Eleven participants completed the trial with 85% or greater adherence to the protocol. The total VASI score improved by 0.5 (P = 0.021) from 5.0 to 4.5, range of scale 0 (no depigmentation) to 100 (completely depigmented). The progression of vitiligo stopped in all participants; the total VASI indicated an average repigmentation of vitiligo lesions of 15%. VETF total vitiligo lesion area decreased 0.4% (P = 0.102) from 5.9 to 5.6 from baseline to week 12. VETF staging score improved by 0.7 (P = 0.101) from 6.6 to 5.8, and the VETF spreading score improved by 3.9 (P < 0.001)) from 2.7 to -1.2. There were no statistically significant changes in platelet count, PTT, or INR.
The criteria for feasibility were met after increasing the maximum age limit of the successful recruitment criterion; participant retention, safety and effectiveness criteria were also met. Ingestion of 60 mg of Ginkgo biloba BID was associated with a significant improvement in total VASI vitiligo measures and VETF spread, and a trend towards improvement on VETF measures of vitiligo lesion area and staging. Larger, randomized double-blind clinical studies are warranted and appear feasible.
Clinical trials.gov registration number NCT00907062
Biomedical and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) academic and clinical communities have yet to arrive at a common understanding of what Integrative healthcare (IHC) is and how it is practiced. The Models of Team Health Care Practice (MTHP) framework is a conceptual representation of seven possible practice models of health care within which teams of practitioners could elect to practice IHC, from an organizational perspective. The models range from parallel practice at one end to integrative practice at the other end. Models differ theoretically, based on a series of hypotheses. To date, this framework has not been empirically validated. This paper aims to test nine hypotheses in an attempt to validate the MTHP framework.
Secondary analysis of two studies carried out by the same research team was conducted, using a mixed methods approach. Data were collected from both biomedical and CAM practitioners working in Canadian IHC clinics. The secondary analysis is based on 21 participants in the qualitative study and 87 in the quantitative study.
We identified three groups among the initial seven models in the MTHP framework. Differences between practitioners working in different practice models were found chiefly between those who thought that their clinics represented an integrative model, versus those who perceived their clinics to represent a parallel or consultative model. Of the scales used in the analysis, only the process of information sharing varied significantly across all three groups of models.
The MTHP framework should be used with caution to guide the evaluation of the impact of team-oriented practice models on both subjective and objective outcomes of IHC. Groups of models may be more useful, because clinics may not "fit" under a single model when more than one model of collaboration occurs at a single site. The addition of a hypothesis regarding power relationships between practitioners should be considered. Further validation is required so that integrative practice models are well described with appropriate terminology, thus facilitating the work of health care practitioners, managers, policy makers and researchers.
Although many pharmacies sell natural health products (NHPs), there is no clear definition as to the roles and responsibilities (if any) of pharmacists with respect to these products.
The purpose of this study was to explore pharmacy and stakeholder leaders’ perceptions of pharmacists’ professional NHP roles and responsibilities.
Semi-structured key informant interviews were conducted with pharmacy leaders (n= 17) and stakeholder (n=18) leaders representing consumers, complementary and alternative medicine practitioners, conventional healthcare practitioners, and industry across Canada.
Overwhelmingly all participants believed a main NHP responsibility for pharmacists was safety monitoring. One challenge identified in the interviews was pharmacists’ general lack of NHP knowledge. Stakeholder leaders did not expect pharmacists to be experts on NHPs, rather that pharmacists should have a basic level of knowledge about NHPs. Many pharmacy leaders appeared to be unfamiliar with current pharmacy policies and guidelines concerning NHPs.
Participants described pharmacists’ professional roles and responsibilities for NHPs as similar to those for over-the-counter drugs. More awareness of existing NHP-related pharmacy policies is needed. Pharmacy owners/managers should provide additional training to ensure front-line pharmacists have appropriate knowledge of NHPs sold in the pharmacy.
PMID: 20188329 CAMSID: cams1316
natural health products; pharmacists; professional roles and responsibilities
Aims and Objectives
Many natural health products (NHPs) and dietary supplements (DS) are purchased in pharmacies and it has been argued that pharmacists are in the best position to provide patients with evidence-based information about them. This study was designed to identify how the pharmacist’s role with respect to NHPs/DS is portrayed in the literature.
A systematic search was conducted in a variety of health databases to identify all literature that pertained to both pharmacy and NHPs/DS. Of the 786 articles identified, 665 were broad-coded and 259 were subjected to in-depth qualitative content analysis for emergent themes.
Overwhelmingly, support for the sale of NHPs/DS in pharmacies is strong. Additionally, a role for pharmacists in NHP/DS counselling is underscored. But another recurrent theme is that pharmacists are ill-equipped to counsel patients about these products that are available on their shelves. This situation has led some to question the ethics of pharmacists selling NHPs/DS and to highlight the existence of an ethical conflict stemming from the profit-motive associated with NHP/DS sales.
This analysis raises concerns about the ethics of NHPs/DS being sold in pharmacies, and about pharmacists being expected to counsel about products of which they have little knowledge.
PMID: 20218027 CAMSID: cams1317
Herbal products are readily available over the counter in health food stores and are often perceived to be without risk. The current Canadian adverse event reporting system suffers from severe underreporting, resulting in a scarcity of safety data on herbal products. Twelve health food store personnel in the Greater Toronto Area were interviewed about their responses to herbal product–related adverse reactions. They generally fostered customer loyalty by offering generous return policies, which included collecting contact information to be sent to the manufacturers with the returned product. Thus, despite the public's lack of knowledge about the formal reporting system, adverse reaction information was directed to manufacturers whenever it resulted in a product return. The relationship between health food stores, industry and Health Canada provides a new opportunity to facilitate adverse event reporting. Additional information could be collected during the return process, and educational initiatives could be implemented to augment current post-market surveillance procedures for herbal products.
To reach consensus on core competency statements for natural health products (NHPs) for Canadian pharmacy students.
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.
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.
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.
natural health products (NHPs); competencies; Delphi method; complementary and alternative medicine; herbal medicine
Natural health products (NHPs), such as herbal medicines and vitamins, are widely available over-the-counter and are often purchased by consumers without advice from a healthcare provider. This study examined how consumers respond when they believe they have experienced NHP-related adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in order to determine how to improve current safety monitoring strategies.
Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with twelve consumers who had experienced a self-identified NHP-related ADR. Key emergent themes were identified and coded using content analysis techniques.
Consumers were generally not comfortable enough with their conventional health care providers to discuss their NHP-related ADRs. Consumers reported being more comfortable discussing NHP-related ADRs with personnel from health food stores, friends or family with whom they had developed trusted relationships. No one reported their suspected ADR to Health Canada and most did not know this was possible.
Consumers generally did not report their suspected NHP-related ADRs to healthcare providers or to Health Canada. Passive reporting systems for collecting information on NHP-related ADRs cannot be effective if consumers who experience NHP-related ADRs do not report their experiences. Healthcare providers, health food store personnel, manufacturers and other stakeholders also need to take responsibility for reporting ADRs in order to improve current pharmacovigilance of NHPs.
This study systematically compares newspaper coverage of clinical trials for herbal remedies, a popular type of complementary and alternative medicine, with clinical trials for pharmaceuticals using a comparative content analysis. This is a timely inquiry given the recognized importance of the popular press as a source of health information, the complex and significant role of complementary and alternative medicine in individual health-care decisions, and the trend toward evidence-based research for some complementary and alternative medical therapies. We searched PubMed for clinical trials, Lexis/Nexis for newspaper articles in the UK, US, Australia/New Zealand, and Factiva for Canadian newspaper articles from 1995 to 2005. We used a coding frame to analyze and compare 48 pharmaceutical and 57 herbal remedy clinical trials as well as 201 pharmaceutical and 352 herbal remedy newspaper articles.
Herbal remedy clinical trials had similar Jadad scores to pharmaceutical trials but were significantly smaller and of shorter duration. The trials were mostly studies from Western countries and published in high-ranking journals. The majority of pharmaceutical (64%) and herbal remedy (53%) clinical trials had private sector funding involvement. A minority declared further author conflicts of interest. Newspaper coverage of herbal remedy clinical trials was more negative than for pharmaceutical trials; a result only partly explained by the greater proportion of herbal remedy clinical trials reporting negative results (P = 0.0201; χ2 = 7.8129; degrees of freedom = 2). Errors of omission were common in newspaper coverage, with little reporting of dose, sample size, location, and duration of the trial, methods, trial funding, and conflicts of interest. There was an under-reporting of risks, especially for herbal remedies.
Our finding of negative coverage of herbal remedy trials is contrary to the positive trends in most published research based primarily on anecdotal accounts. Our results highlight how media coverage is not providing the public with the information necessary to make informed decisions about medical treatments. Most concerning is the lack of disclosure of trial funding and conflicts of interest that could influence the outcome or reporting of trial results. This lack of reporting may impact the medical research community, which has the most to lose by way of public trust and respect.
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
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
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.