Exploring knowledge and attitudes towards counselling about vitamin supplements in Jordanian community pharmacies
The use of multivitamins within a pharmaceutical setting has been the subject of considerable debate.
Objective: This research aimed to provide a platform for assessing and evaluating knowledge, attitudes and professional practices of Jordaninan community pharmacists in counselling patients about the safe consumption of vitamins.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted between October 2009 and May 2010. Data collection was carried out using a 44-item semi-structured self-administrated questionnaire. Setting: Community pharmacies in Amman with target sample of 400 pharmacists.
Results: A total of 388 pharmacists participated in this study. The majority (77.8%) of pharmacists believed that a balanced diet is more achievable by eating healthily than by vitamins supplements. 78.1% of participants believed that vitamins deficiency would not shorten life spans, while 80.7% agreed that vitamin supplements could be toxic or might contain unlabelled harmful ingredients. Less than half of pharmacists were aware that some antioxidant vitamins have been verified to be of unproven value, or may even cause cancer.
While over 80% of pharmacists would recommend vitamins on a regular basis without prescription, the majority agreed that counselling on vitamin supplements is part of their role in pharmaceutical care (93.3%), in addition to providing relevant information to other healthcare professionals (78.4%). Moreover, responses to specific knowledge questions, such as the interactions of vitamins with drugs or the recommended dietary allowance of vitamins for infants, children, and pregnant women, were negative. Furthermore, only a minority of pharmacists would recheck the accuracy of dose regimens in prescriptions and symptoms of true vitamins deficiency or would follow up patients to record any consequences of vitamins consumption.
Conclusion: The questionnaire revealed satisfactory awareness of community pharmacists about their role in counselling; however, further programmes to update their knowledge are mandatory to emphasise the importance of vitamin supplements as part of complementary medicine, and their exclusion from being considered as merely over the counter (OTC) products.
Keywords: Vitamins. Community Pharmacy Services. Professional Practice. Jordan.
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