Awareness, use, attitude and perceived need for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) education among undergraduate pharmacy students in Sierra Leone: A descriptive cross-sectional survey

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Journal Article
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2014, 14 (1)
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© 2014 James and Bah. Background: The widespread use of CAM around the world requires health professionals including pharmacists to have the required knowledge to better advise their patients. This has lead to an increased need for the inclusion of CAM instruction into the mainstream undergraduate Pharmacy education. This study was designed to describe pharmacy students awareness, use, attitude and perceived need for CAM education at COMAHS-USL and at the same time, determine how these descriptive outcomes are influenced by the socio-demographic variables considered in this study. Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional survey was conducted among undergraduate pharmacy students (n = 90) at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, University of Sierra Leone using a structured questionnaire. Chi square, fisher exact test, and general linear model univariate analysis were used to compare data between independent cohorts. Results: All 90 (100%) of the students were aware and have used (except Ayurveda) at least one of the listed CAM modalities. Herbal/Botanical/Supplements followed by Spirituality/Prayer were the most commonly known and used CAM modalities. Almost two thirds of students considered the CAM modalities they have used to be effective and not harmful. Overall, pharmacy students had a positive attitude towards CAM (Mean attitudinal score = 34.9 ± 4. 5 (range 19-43)) with fourth and fifth year students showing a significantly less positive attitude as compared to the first, second and third year (B = -3.203 p = 0.001, 95% confidence interval - 5.093 to -1.314). The media [53 (58.9%)] was the most frequent source of information about CAM. Nearly all students [89 (98.9%)] agreed that CAM knowledge is important to them as future pharmacist and that CAM should be included into the Pharmacy curriculum at COMAHS-USL [81 (90.0%)]. Conclusion: Pharmacy students in Sierra Leone are aware of and have used at least one of the CAM modalities and do show a positive attitude towards CAM. This was demonstrated by their overwhelming endorsement for CAM course to be part of the undergraduate pharmacy training at COMAHS-USL. This study among others will inform and guide the development and implementation of CAM instruction at COMAHS-USL.
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