Online Education for Improving Communication and Documentation of Dietary Supplements Among Health Professionals Practicing in a Hospital Setting

UMMS Affiliation

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

Publication Date


Document Type



Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Health Communication | Health Information Technology | Health Services Administration | Integrative Medicine | Medical Education


BACKGROUND: Little is known about the feasibility of online education in improving communication and documentation of dietary supplements (DS) among clinicians.

METHODS: This prospective educational study included clinicians at an urban teaching hospital. The curriculum included video streams, didactics, and interactive case presentations to discuss (1) DS safety and effectiveness, (2) cultural competency, (3) managing DS in a hospital setting, and (4) DS adverse events. Participants were surveyed, at baseline and after training, about DS knowledge, confidence, communication, and documentation practices.

RESULTS: Thirty-nine of 61 (64%) recruited clinicians completed all four patient cases and post-tests. Most (82%) were women and 59% were physicians. The mean DS knowledge test score increased after the curriculum (p < 0.0001), and the clinician confidence score also increased (p < 0.0001). Most (82%) participants reported that curriculum changed their use of evidence-based resources (p = 0.01). There was a change in the indications for symptom management (p = 0.05) and gastrointestinal/digestive health issues (p = 0.03). There were statistically significant increases in the frequency of asking patients about DS use during discharge (p = 0.01), and 82% responded that the curriculum changed their DS documentation.

CONCLUSION: An online curriculum is an effective tool for presenting DS education to clinicians with the goal of improving clinicians' knowledge, confidence, and documentation practices about DS.

DOI of Published Version



J Altern Complement Med. 2015 Oct;21(10):638-44. doi: 10.1089/acm.2015.0156. Epub 2015 Aug 13. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.)


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