Aim: Attitudes and practice concerning complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are currently an area of considerable importance. However, little is known about the overall importance of CAM in groups of health care professionals. Therefore, the primary objective was to analyse the knowledge about and use of CAM in an ethnically diverse student population at the London School of Pharmacy.
Methods: A questionnaire was administered to students (264 completed questionnaires, response rate: 59.1%) and in-depth interviews were carried out with a sample of seven students.
Results: Forty-three percent reported using at least one type of CAM during the last 12 months. The types of CAM used that were most frequently mentioned include aromatherapy, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and medicinal herbalism. TCM was reported by students of Chinese origin and by students from other ethnic backgrounds. However, Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine and medicine from Africa were only used in cultures from which the users originated. The study shows that a large number of herbal medical products were commonly reported by students of pharmacy.
Conclusion: The knowledge about and use of CAM is widespread among this group of future health care professionals and the students also expressed a strong interest in the topic. In-depth studies on the knowledge and use of CAM among other health care professionals and among ethnic minorities are urgently needed and may help to better manage the treatment of minor disorders as well as chronic diseases.