UMMS Affiliation

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

Publication Date


Document Type



Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Behavioral Medicine | Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition | Health Information Technology | Health Psychology | Health Services Administration | Integrative Medicine | Medical Education | Primary Care | Psychiatry and Psychology


BACKGROUND: Little is known about clinicians' use of herbs and dietary supplements (HDS), how their personal HDS use changes with time and training, and how changes in their personal use affect their confidence or communication with patients about HDS.

METHODS: We conducted a prospective cohort study of clinicians before and after an on-line curriculum about HDS in winter-spring, 2005.

RESULTS: Of the 569 clinicians who completed surveys both at baseline and after the course, 25% were male and the average age was 42 years old; 88% used HDS before and after the course. The average number of supplements used fell slightly from 6.2 at baseline to 5.8 after the course (P < 0.01). The most commonly used supplements at baseline were: multivitamins (65%), calcium (42%), B vitamins (34%), vitamin C (34%), green tea (27%), fish oil (27%) and vitamin E (25%). Use of fish oil increased to 30% after the course (P = 0.01). Use of supplements traditionally used to treat colds decreased: vitamin C (34% to 27%), zinc (13% to 10%), and echinacea (7% to 5%, P < 0.05 for all three). Changes in personal HDS use were not associated with significant changes in confidence or communication with patients.

CONCLUSION: Many clinicians use HDS personally; use changes seasonally and to a small extent with professional education. Professional use of HDS is dynamic and seasonal. Additional research is needed to understand the impact of personal use on professional attitudes and behavior in populations with lower baseline uses of HDS.


Dietary Supplement, Communication Practice, High Usage Rate, Online Curriculum, Exploratory Statistical Analysis

Rights and Permissions

© 2007 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. 2007 Jun 12;7:21. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-7-21. 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