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Background: Atopic eczema (AE) is a common skin disease with an increasing worldwide prevalence, which has almost doubled over the last decade in South Africa. Many patients commonly explore complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) for AE and often initially seek advice from their local pharmacists.
Aim: To explore the knowledge, attitude and practices amongst community pharmacists regarding CAM.
Setting: The study was conducted amongst pharmacists working in community pharmacies in Durban, South Africa.
Methods: During 2016, a cross-sectional study was conducted amongst 158 randomly selected pharmacists, of which 82 responded. Respondents were sent an email with a link to the questionnaire. Where logistically possible, questionnaires were hand-delivered.
Results: The majority of respondents were male (n = 46; 56%), aged between 31 and 40 years. Despite most pharmacists not being familiar with various CAMs for AE, many (43%) recommend them, and 50% were amenable to referring patients to CAM practitioners. Despite 51% reporting that patients do ask about CAM for AE, 54% are not confident discussing or initiating discussions with patients. More than half of the pharmacists (55%) had no CAM training but believed it is essential for inclusion in the undergraduate pharmacy curriculum. Most were interested in broadening their knowledge on CAM and felt it would better prepare them in counselling their patients.
Conclusions: The study demonstrated poor knowledge and communication about CAM for AE between pharmacists and patients, although pharmacists exhibited strong interests in learning more about CAM. There is a continuing need for education programmes and inclusion into undergraduate curricula that would assist pharmacists to advise patients on different types of CAMs.