Objectives: This study determined the prevalence of herb/supplement use in a low-income population and determined the providers' level of knowledge about herbs/supplements.
Methods: Adult English-speaking patients seen at a rural family practice residency clinic were offered an anonymous survey. Another survey was developed for the clinic providers. Data were analyzed using the chi-square test.
Results: Fifty-six percent of a low-income population use herbs/supplements; 41% of all users cited friends or relatives as their main source of information, and 53% of users had not informed their provider. In the provider survey, 69% of the providers indicated that they had received no education about herbs/supplements, yet 71% were asked about them by patients at least twice a month.
Conclusions: Because herb/supplement use occurs across all demographic groups, all patients should be questioned about their use of such substances. Currently, few providers are prepared to guide their patients about herbs/supplements. Efforts should be made to educate health care providers about common herbs/supplements.