Knowledge, attitude and practices of south african healthcare professionals towards complementary and alternative medicine use for atopic eczema – a descriptive survey
Thandar Y., Botha J., Sartorius B., Mosam A.
© 2017 The Author(s). Background: Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are used widely for treating atopic eczema (AE), commonly in conjunction with conventional medicines prescribed by mainstream healthcare professionals (HCPs). This cross-sectional survey evaluated the knowledge, general attitudes and practices regarding CAM among dermatologists, paediatricians, general practitioners (GPs) and pharmacists treating patients with AE in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. Methods: Questionnaires were sent via email or hand-delivered to HCPs nearby. Results: Of the 330 respondents, 220 (67%) were males and 110 (33%) females. Most (40%) were > 50 years. GPs and pharmacists were significantly more embracing of CAM compared with dermatologists and paediatricians. The majority were not familiar with most CAMs for AE. More GPs (29%) and pharmacists (43%) recommend CAM compared with dermatologists (8%) and paediatricians (5%). GPs and pharmacists were also amenable to referring patients to CAM practitioners. The majority do not initiate discussions with their patients regarding CAM use nor enquire when taking a history. Many dermatologists (65%) and pharmacists (51%) reported that their patients ask about CAM. All dermatologists, 95% of paediatricians, 87% of GPs and 55% of pharmacists reported having no training in CAM but believed it should be included in their curriculum. Most are interested in learning about CAM and agreed that it would better prepare them in managing patients. Conclusion: This study demonstrated poor CAM knowledge and communication between HCPs and patients but a strong interest amongst HCPs to learn more. There is an urgent need for continuing education programmes and inclusion in undergraduate curriculums, which will assist HCPs in influencing better patient outcomes.