Assessment of the information needs and use of information resources on complementary and alternative medicine by Alberta family physicians
Assessment of the information needs and use of information resources on complementary and alternative medicine by Alberta family physicians.
Suter E, Verhoef M, O'Beirne M. Clin Invest Med 2004; 27(6): 312-315.
The authors all are affiliated with the University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They have observed that more and more patients are discussing complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies with their family physicians, and that often these physicians feel reluctant to incorporate CAM into their treatment regimens owing to a perceived lack of evidence supporting these therapies. They surveyed every third family physician listed in the roster of registrants of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta using a mailed questionnaire. Their goal was to measure Alberta physicians' knowledge of CAM, their interest in CAM information, their preferred CAM information sources, and the relationship between interest in CAM and sociodemographic factors. Following reminders and second mailings to nonresponders, the response rate was 34% (346 physicians). A majority of respondents said they had little knowledge of CAM but were interested in learning more, particularly in the areas of herbal medicine and acupuncture. Respondents indicated a strong preference for evidence-based information in the form of systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials. Surprisingly, a majority of respondents were not aware of or did not regularly use two evidence-based resources: the Cochrane Collaboration and PubMed/ Medline; they preferred to receive their information via printed materials in the form of reviewed journals and handbooks. The authors acknowledge that the applicability of their findings is limited by the low response rate to their survey and a possible response bias from physicians interested in CAM.
The authors use as examples seven Internet-based, evidence-based CAM resources and suggest that, in the future, workshops on finding and effectively using electronic CAM resources should be developed for physicians.
College of Pharmacy
Mary E. MacCara, PharmD
College of Pharmacy and Department of Family Medicine
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada