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Use of and Familiarity With Dietary Supplement Information References by Practicing PharmacistsMario M. Zeolla, PharmD, BCPS; Jennifer Cerulli, PharmD, BCPS Authors and Disclosures Published: 11/24/2008

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Abstract and Introduction Objectives and Methods Results Discussion Limitations Conclusion References

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Abstract and IntroductionAbstract Objective: To survey practicing pharmacists regarding their use of and familiarity with six dietary supplement information references. Methods: Pharmacists attending a March 2005 continuing education program at the Albany College of Pharmacy on interactions between drugs and dietary supplements were surveyed about their use of and views on dietary supplement information references. Included in the survey were six references: Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) for Herbal Medicines; Facts and Comparisons: Review of Natural Products; German Commission E Monographs; Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (online or

textbook format); Micromedex: AltMedDex; and The Natural Therapeutics Pocket Guide. The survey was repeated by mail 1 year after the program. Results: Of the 91 attendees at the program, 58 completed the survey, and 25 individuals returned the 1-year survey. Of those completing the surveys, 80% had more than 10 years in practice, 95% had bachelor's degrees, and most practiced in community or institutional pharmacies. At baseline, fewer than 40% had "heard of" four of the six references. Pharmacists were most familiar with PDR for Herbal Medicines and Factsand Comparisons: Review of Natural Products. Familiarity rates increased at 1 year for five of the six references, though, again, overall rates were low and differences from baseline were not statistically significant for any of the six references. Usage rates increased for two references (Facts and Comparisons: Review of Natural Products and Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database) at 1 year and declined for the remaining four. Conclusion: Experienced pharmacists in both community and institutional settings infrequently use and are unfamiliar with dietary supplement information references, including those found in studies to be of the highest quality. Education on the availability and features of these references could benefit pharmacists and potentially change usage patterns. Introduction The use of dietary supplements in the United States has increased dramatically since the early 1990s. One study found that 73% of Americans reported using a supplement in the previous 12 months.[1] As experts in drug information, pharmacists are often sought by patients and other health care providers to answer questions relating to these agents. Studies suggest that pharmacists perceive a lack of available high-quality dietary supplement information and that some pharmacists may not use or have access to such resources.[2] Many dietary supplement information references are now available in both hard-copy and electronic formats to assist pharmacists in this role. Studies evaluating the quality of these references provide guidance regarding which are most reliable and useful.[3,4] The extent to which pharmacists in diverse practice settings are familiar with or use those references deemed most useful is not fully known.

Use of and Familiarity With Dietary Supplement Information References by Practicing PharmacistsMario M. Zeolla, PharmD, BCPS; Jennifer Cerulli, PharmD, BCPS Authors and Disclosures Published: 11/24/2008

Print This

processing....

Abstract and Introduction Objectives and Methods Results Discussion Limitations Conclusion References

Information from Industry

Assess clinically focused product information on Medscape. Click Here for Product Infosites Information from Industry.

Abstract and IntroductionAbstract Objective: To survey practicing pharmacists regarding their use of and familiarity with six dietary supplement information references. Methods: Pharmacists attending a March 2005 continuing education program at the Albany College of Pharmacy on interactions between drugs and dietary supplements were surveyed about their use of and views on dietary supplement information references. Included in the survey were six references: Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) for Herbal Medicines; Facts and Comparisons: Review of Natural Products; German Commission E Monographs; Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (online or textbook format); Micromedex: AltMedDex; and The Natural Therapeutics Pocket Guide. The survey was repeated by mail 1 year after the program. Results: Of the 91 attendees at the program, 58 completed the survey, and 25 individuals returned the 1-year survey. Of those completing the surveys, 80% had more than 10 years in practice, 95% had bachelor's degrees, and most practiced in community or institutional pharmacies. At baseline, fewer than 40% had "heard of" four of the six references. Pharmacists were most familiar with PDR for Herbal Medicines and Factsand Comparisons: Review of Natural Products. Familiarity rates increased at 1 year for five of the six references, though, again, overall rates were low and differences from baseline were not statistically significant for any of the six references. Usage rates increased for two references (Facts and Comparisons: Review of Natural Products and Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database) at 1 year and declined for the remaining four. Conclusion: Experienced pharmacists in both community and institutional settings infrequently use and are unfamiliar with dietary supplement information references,

including those found in studies to be of the highest quality. Education on the availability and features of these references could benefit pharmacists and potentially change usage patterns. Introduction The use of dietary supplements in the United States has increased dramatically since the early 1990s. One study found that 73% of Americans reported using a supplement in the previous 12 months.[1] As experts in drug information, pharmacists are often sought by patients and other health care providers to answer questions relating to these agents. Studies suggest that pharmacists perceive a lack of available high-quality dietary supplement information and that some pharmacists may not use or have access to such resources.[2] Many dietary supplement information references are now available in both hard-copy and electronic formats to assist pharmacists in this role. Studies evaluating the quality of these references provide guidance regarding which are most reliable and useful.[3,4] The extent to which pharmacists in diverse practice settings are familiar with or use those references deemed most useful is not fully known.

Beware of scams and health fraudScammers have perfected ways to convince you that their alternative medicine products are the best. These opportunists often target people who are overweight or who have medical conditions for which there is no cure, such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS and arthritis. Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be alert for these red flags:

Big promises. Advertisements call the product a "miracle cure" or "revolutionary discovery." If that were true, it would be widely reported in the media and your doctor would recommend it. Pseudomedical jargon. Although terms such as "purify," "detoxify" and "energize" may sound impressive and may even have an element of truth, they're generally used to cover up a lack of scientific proof. Cure-alls. The manufacturer claims that the product can treat a wide range of symptoms, or cure or prevent a number of diseases. No single product can do all this. Testimonials. Anecdotes from individuals who have used the product are no substitute for scientific proof. If the product's claims were backed up with hard evidence, the manufacturer would say so. Guarantees and limited offers. These pitches are intended to get you to buy before you can evaluate the product's claims.

Choose practitioners wiselyTake care when choosing an alternative medicine practitioner. Picking a name out of the phone book isn't the safest way to select a practitioner. Instead, try these tips from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM):

Talk with your doctor. Ask your conventional doctor for recommendations. He or she can also be a source of advice about any recommendations you get from an alternative medicine practitioner. Contact a local hospital or medical school. They often keep lists of area CAM practitioners. Some have their own CAM practitioners on staff. Check the national association. Alternative medicine associations will often provide a list of certified practitioners in your area. To find the addresses and phone numbers of these associations, check the Directory of Health Organizations online compiled by the National Library of Medicine. Call your local health department. Ask if they know of state or local certifying, licensing or accreditation bodies for the alternative medicine practice you're considering. Ask questions. Ask CAM practitioners about their education, training, licenses and certifications. Ask if they specialize in particular diseases or health conditions and whether they frequently treat people with problems similar to yours. Also ask what treatments cost and find out if your health insurance covers them.

CAM starts with complementaryIdeally the various forms of treatments you select should work together with the care of your conventional doctor. You may find that certain alternative treatments help you maintain your health and relieve some of your symptoms. But continue to rely on co

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