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Open Access Research article

The prevalence and experience of Australian naturopaths and Western herbalists working within community pharmacies

Lesley A Braun12*, Ondine Spitzer2, Evelin Tiralongo3, Jenny M Wilkinson4, Michael Bailey6, Susan Poole5 and Michael Dooley5

Author Affiliations

1 Cardiothoracic Surgical Research Unit, Department of Surgery, Monash University Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

2 Department of Pharmacy, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

3 School of Pharmacy & Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia

4 School of Biomedical Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia

5 Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University, Parkville, Australia

6 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine School Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Monash University Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011, 11:41  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-41

Published: 23 May 2011

Abstract

Background

Naturopaths and Western herbal medicine (WHM) practitioners were surveyed to identify their extent, experience and roles within the community pharmacy setting and to explore their attitudes to integration of complementary medicine (CM) practitioners within the pharmacy setting.

Method

Practising naturopaths and WHM practitioners were invited to participate in an anonymous, self-administered, on-line survey. Participants were recruited using the mailing lists and websites of CM manufacturers and professional associations.

Results

479 practitioners participated. 24% of respondents (n = 111) reported they had worked in community pharmacy, three-quarters for less than 5 years. Whilst in this role 74% conducted specialist CMs sales, 62% short customer consultations, 52% long consultations in a private room and 51% staff education. This was generally described as a positive learning experience and many appreciated the opportunity to utilise their specialist knowledge in the service of both customers and pharmacy staff. 14% (n = 15) did not enjoy the experience of working in pharmacy at all and suggested pharmacist attitude largely influenced whether the experience was positive or not. Few practitioners were satisfied with the remuneration received. 44% of the total sample provided comment on the issue of integration into pharmacy, with the main concern being the perceived incommensurate paradigms of practice between pharmacy and naturopathy. Of the total sample, 38% reported that they would consider working as a practitioner in retail pharmacy in future.

Conclusions

The level of integration of CM into pharmacy is extending beyond the mere stocking of supplements. Naturopaths and Western Herbalists are becoming utilised in pharmacies