The risks associated with consumer magazines giving advice on complementary therapies

Nurs Times. 2009 Dec 8-14;105(48):19-21.


Background: The increased popularity of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has led to increased demand for information on it, giving rise to the concept of "new experts". However, there is concern about the quality and accuracy of this information, much of which is published in popular magazines and written by contributors with no medical qualifications.

Aim: To examine the extent of CAM product advice in women's and health magazines, and the potential for adverse drug/herbal interaction.

Method: Fifteen women's magazines were examined over one month.

Results and discussion: A total of 150 articles were identified, of which 131 were written by non-medically qualified contributors, mainly journalists. Out of the 150, 95 discussed ingested herbs which had the potential for adverse interactions and are contraindicated for certain groups.

Conclusion: The findings have legal and ethical implications. The re-evaluation of the journalists' code of conduct to reflect this development in journalism should be considered.

MeSH terms

  • Community Participation*
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Humans
  • Periodicals as Topic*
  • Risk Assessment