Pharmacy students' use, knowledge and attitudes toward complementary and alternative medicine at Riyadh region, Saudi Arabia

Hussain Abdulrahman Al-Omar, Mohammed Naser Al-Arifi


The survey was conducted to explore use, knowledge and attitudes toward complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among pharmacy students at the college of pharmacy, King Saud University. A total of 133 fourth- and fifth-year pharmacy students completed a questionnaire designed to explore their use, knowledge and attitudes toward CAM therapies at the college of pharmacy, King Saud University. Study lasted for 3 months from 1st of October until 31st of December in 2007. Nutrition and herbal medicine therapies were the most known therapies by 65% and 53% of the students, respectively. Knowledge about CAM therapies among the students
was limited. Thirty-nine percent of the students reported use of some form of CAM at least once in their lifetime. CAM was used for acute, chronic and mild illness as well as nutrition. Herbal medicine, nutrition, massage, relaxation exercises, yoga and mega-dose vitamin were the most CAM used. Lectures were the chief CAM information source. More than one half of the respondents (53–70%) believed that five of the 15 CAM modalities were useful, namely massage, herbal medicine, nutrition, yoga and relaxation exercises. Respondents had a positive attitude toward statements that favoured CAM. Most students strongly agreed or agreed that most
CAM therapies were efficacious, whereas 52.6% of the respondents did believe that CAM therapies can be harmful to public health. The study showed that the students had positive attitude toward CAM and exhibited relatively high level of self-reported use of CAM therapies. Overall, students' knowledge of CAM is limited. The students perceived interest in learning and training in CAM. A separate course in CAM including its various components is needed. Also, availability of a reliable CAM information sources will aid the students to increase their knowledge of CAM.
Key words: Acupuncture, alternative medicine, complementary, herbal medicine, pharmacy students

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