Community pharmacist practices, attitudes, recommendations, information and education needs for herbal and nutrient complementary medicines for weight loss.
Date of this Version
Over half the Australian population use some form of alternative or complementary medicine, spending more than $2 billion dollars annually. Herbal/nutrient complementary medicines for weight loss (WLCM) are popular among consumers, with pharmacies being a major retail outlet for these products. To date, there are no Australian studies exploring community pharmacists’ attitudes and practices regarding WLCMs sold in pharmacies.
To investigate pharmacists’ WLCM practices in the context of other pharmacist weight-management support practices (provision of lifestyle advice, orlistat and meal-replacement treatments); and gain insight into community pharmacist attitudes, recommendations, information and education needs.
Pharmacists were randomly selected from a sample of 214 community pharmacies located within different socioeconomic areas in the Greater Brisbane region, Australia. Pharmacists completed a survey exploring their weight-management practices, with a specific focus on WLCM practices. Items within the questionnaire were adapted from previously published surveys or developed by the authors. Data collected from the sample group represented pharmacist practices within the Greater Brisbane metropolitan region.
The response rate was 51%. During weight-management consultations, a relatively high proportion of consumers (37%) sought pharmacist advice relating to WLCM compared to other weight-management practices. Only 10% of pharmacists however recommended them. The resources that most pharmacists reported using provide insufficient WLCM information and may not be evidence-based. The majority of community pharmacists (85%) were interested in further education about WLCMs.
Results from this study highlight the need for pharmacy professional bodies to develop education programmes for pharmacists that are evidence-based to assist consumers with popular and widely available WLCM products.
This document has been peer reviewed.