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Knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of healthcare providers for botanical and dietary supplement use for postmenopausal health

Geller, Stacie E. PhD; Studee, Laura BA; Chandra, Gopika MD, MPH

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Objective: To identify the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of health care providers (physicians and nurses) regarding the use of botanical dietary supplements (BDS) for peri- and postmenopausal women.

Design: Health care providers (physicians and nurse practitioners/nurse midwives) completed a questionnaire to assess knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding botanical dietary supplement use for peri- and postmenopausal women. A total of 62 providers were included in the final analysis.

Results: Two thirds of providers reported that they had limited or no knowledge about botanical dietary supplements. By far, the majority of providers had no formal training nor had they studied these supplements on their own. Although knowledge was limited, a majority of providers wanted additional training predominantly because of growing patient awareness and use and were open to using these therapies for their patients either in combination with conventional Western medicine or as the only support for relief of peri- and postmenopausal symptoms. However, only 25% of providers regularly asked their peri- and postmenopausal patients about use of botanical dietary supplements. Providers who had practiced longer (≥11 y) were more likely to be knowledgeable about dietary supplements and to have studied on their own (P < 0.01), to believe that botanicals are part of evidence-based medicine (P < 0.05), and to have talked to their patients (P < 0.05) about use of these therapies. Increased knowledge also appeared to predict a more positive attitude on the part of providers toward their patients who use BDS (P < 0.001) as well as more proactive behavior related to referring and recommending these therapies as treatment (P < 0.01).

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that knowledge about botanical therapies among health care providers caring for peri- and postmenopausal women is quite low, but they are open to learning more about these modalities and using them for treatment, if appropriate. Our results suggest that increased years in practice is related to increased knowledge, more positive attitudes, and more proactive behaviors related to botanical dietary supplements.

This study suggests that knowledge about botanical therapies among healthcare providers caring for menopausal women is quite low, but they are open to learning more about these modalities and using them for treatment if appropriate, Increased years in practice is related to increased knowledge, more positive attitudes, and more proative behaviors related to botanical dietary supplements.

From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Medicine, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL.

Received January 21, 2004; revised and accepted March 15, 2004.

Funding for this survey and analysis was provided by the Office on Women's Health, Department of Health and Human Services (order number 02T02014302D).

Address correspondence to: Stacie Geller, PhD, Director, National Center of Excellence in Women's Health (COE), Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology (MC 808) College of Medicine, University of Illinois, Chicago, 820 S Wood St, Chicago, IL. E-mail: sgeller@uic.edu.

©2005The North American Menopause Society