UMMS Affiliation

Center for Integrated Primary Care; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Behavioral Medicine | Health Psychology | Health Services Administration | Health Services Research | Integrative Medicine | Medical Education | Primary Care | Psychiatry and Psychology


BACKGROUND: Herbs and other dietary supplements are among the most commonly used complementary medical therapies. However, clinicians generally have limited knowledge, confidence and communication about herbs and dietary supplements (HDS). We compared diverse clinicians' expertise about HDS to better target future curricula.

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, dietitians and trainees in these professions prior to e-curriculum about HDS in 2004-2005. The survey had 28 questions about knowledge, 19 questions about their confidence and 11 questions about their communication practices about HDS.

RESULTS: Of the 1,268 participants, 25% were male; the average age was 40 years. Mean scores were 66% correct for knowledge; 53/95 on the confidence scale and 2.2 out of possible 10 on the communication practices scale. On average, scores were lowest for those who used fewer HDS; and trainees and nurses compared with physicians, pharmacists and dietitians (P < 0.01 for all comparisons).

CONCLUSION: Clinicians have moderate levels of knowledge and confidence, but poor communication skills about HDS. Future curricula about HDS should target nurses, students, practitioners and those not currently using HDS. Research is needed to determine the most cost-effective educational strategies for diverse health professionals.


Knowledge Score, Professional Group, Communication Practice, North Carolina, Black Cohosh

Rights and Permissions

© 2006 Kemper et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

DOI of Published Version



BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006 Apr 28;6:15. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-6-15. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

BMC complementary and alternative medicine


At the time of publication, Paula Gardiner was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID