Pharmacist Knowledge and Perceptions of Homeopathy: A Survey of Recent Pharmacy Graduates in Practice

Homeopathic products are available over the counter in many pharmacies in the United States and are popular among consumers, although there is no conclusive evidence of their therapeutic effects. Pharmacists are obligated to provide well-informed, evidence-based information on these products, but many graduates may not be receiving adequate training in this area. This report outlines the results of a survey assessing whether taking a focused elective course in complementary and integrative health (CIH) affects knowledge and perceptions regarding homeopathy. A 22-question survey was developed and distributed to graduates of Idaho State University College of Pharmacy. Responses on survey items were compared between those who had reported taking the CIH elective course and those who had not. Of the 475 pharmacists, 89 completed the survey (response rate of 18.7%). Pharmacists who had taken the CIH elective course reported being more comfortable answering patient questions (82% vs. 44%, p < 0.001), felt more able to make recommendations (75% vs. 36%, p < 0.001), and felt they could explain the proposed mechanism of action of homeopathic remedies to their patients (87% vs. 61%, p = 0.002). Those who took the elective course were also more likely to say that any benefits of homeopathy were due to the placebo effect (82% vs. 64%, p = 0.007). A significantly higher portion of respondents who had not taken the elective course indicated that they could benefit from further training on CIH topics when compared with those who had taken the elective course (85% vs. 51%, p = 0.02). There was no significant difference between groups with respect to their use of reliable resources (e.g., PubMed and Natural Medicines) vs. unreliable sources (other internet searches or personal anecdotes) when addressing CIH-related questions. These findings indicate that pharmacists with more focused training in CIH are more comfortable, confident, and knowledgeable when discussing homeopathy. Such education should be provided more broadly to students in colleges of pharmacy.

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