Comparison of dietary supplement product knowledge and confidence between pharmacists and health food store employees

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Objectives: To determine pharmacists' and health food store employees' knowledge about the safety and efficacy of common, nonvitamin, nonmineral dietary supplements in a retail setting and confidence in discussing, recommending, and acquiring knowledge about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Central and western New York in May and June 2012.

Main Outcome Measures: Knowledge and confidence survey scores based on true/false and Likert scale responses.

Results: Pharmacists' mean knowledge score was significantly higher than that of health food store employees (8.42 vs. 6.15 items of 15 total knowledge questions). Adjusting for differences in experience, education, occupation, and confidence, knowledge scores were significantly higher for pharmacists and those with a higher total confidence score. Pharmacists were significantly less confident about the safety and efficacy of CAM comparatively (13 vs. 16 items of 20 total questions).

Conclusion: Pharmacists scored significantly higher than health food store employees on a survey assessing knowledge of dietary supplements' safety and efficacy. Despite the significant difference, scores were unacceptably low for pharmacists, highlighting a knowledge deficit in subject matter.


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