2 in 3 patients don't reveal complementary medicine use

Tuesday, 16 April, 2019

2 in 3 patients don't reveal complementary medicine use

New research out of the University of Technology in Sydney has revealed that only 1 in 3 people taking complementary medicines (CMs) tell their healthcare professionals (HCPs) about their use.

The research found 67% of people don’t tell their HCP about their use of CMs because: they think they will disapprove; the HCP didn’t ask; or the patient believes their HCP won’t know enough about the therapy. 

“This is consistent with previous studies. Doctors don’t ask, patients don’t tell, so no-one gets the full picture. Despite university-level education and quality use of medicine frameworks, which require health professionals to enquire about all medicines, this is still an ongoing problem.  It’s a missed opportunity for the best quality care,” Blackmores Institute Director Dr Lesley Braun said.

The researchers found that patient–practitioner communication played a key role in disclosure rates. The nature of the HCP's communication style, their level of perceived knowledge of CMs and direct inquiry about CM use all affect how often a patient disclosed.

Further analysis found that patients’ perceptions of how their HCP might respond to them using CM was an important factor in whether or not they would disclose their CM use. If a patient perceived their HCP as being accepting and non-judgemental, it encouraged disclosure, whereas fear of a negative response often led to non-disclosure.

Dr Braun noted that good medicine promotes patient-centred care, a respect for patient autonomy and the patient's right to choose.

“This study highlights how important direct, supportive, non-judgemental communication with patients is, and that healthcare professionals need to ensure their knowledge of CM is up-to-date. It’s important for us to understand why the patient has taken that line of approach to ensure the best outcomes.”

With an estimated seven out of ten people using some form of CM in Australia, and two in three not disclosing their use of CM products to their HCPs, the potential risks of drug and nutrient/herb interactions increases, which in turn increases the need to improve disclosure rates.

The recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in Scientific Reports included 86 observational studies published between 2003 and 2016, and reviewed the disclosure rates and/or reasons for disclosure/non-disclosure of CM use to medical providers. It was an update of a previous paper published on the same topic in 2004.

Rates of disclosure by individuals using CMs such as nutritional and herbal supplements was 33% with the lowest reported disclosure rate being 12%, and the highest being 59% revealing little discernible improvement to disclosure rates over the last 13 years.

For HCPs, a good knowledge of CMs and a willingness to discuss them — without judgement — will help patients choose what’s most effective, and importantly, what works best for them.

This article was first published by the Blackmores Institute and republished with permission.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/pat_hastings

Originally published here.

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