Objective: To investigate patient experience with probiotics and factors that influence probiotic use among adult patients.
Method: Patients were invited to complete a questionnaire that assessed their experiences and opinions regarding probiotics. Questionnaires were distributed to patients seeking primary health care services at a family and community medicine practice site and a community pharmacy. Patients were invited to complete the questionnaire while awaiting the physician or waiting for prescriptions to be filled.
Results: Overall, 162 surveys were completed and returned (66% response rate) from patients aged 18 to 89 years of age (mean 49.5 years). Most patients (n=107; 65%) were familiar with the term "probiotic", and 49 patients (29.9%) had personally used the supplements in the past. Of those who had used probiotics, the majority (57%) had used the supplements to maintain "good gastrointestinal health" and most (59%) felt that the supplements had been beneficial. However, most (59%) had not informed their health care provider about their use of the supplements.
Conclusion: Use of probiotic supplements is common among consumers, but may not be reported to health care providers.
Keywords: community pharmacy; primary care; probiotic.