Defining and supporting a professional role for pharmacists associated with traditional and complementary medicines: a cross-country survey of pharmacists
Introduction: An estimated 80% of the world’s population use traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM) products as part of their healthcare, with many accessed through pharmacy. This cross-cultural study posed a set of professional practice responsibilities and actions to pharmacists related to T&CM products, with a view toward developing consensus, safeguarding, and promoting the health of the public. Methods : Data were collected from 2,810 pharmacists across nine countries during 2022 via a cross-sectional online survey reported in accordance with the guidelines of STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) and the Checklist for Reporting Results of Internet E-Surveys (CHERRIES). Results : Of the 2,810 participants from nine countries, 2,341 completed all sections of the survey. Of these, most agreed (69%) that T&CM product use was common in the community they served, but most did not have adequate training to support consumer needs. Over 75% acknowledged that there were known and unknown safety risks associated with T&CM use. Of 18 professional responsibilities posed, 92% agreed that pharmacists should be able to inform consumers about potential risks, including T&CM side effects and drug–herb interactions. The provision of accurate scientific information on the effectiveness of T&CM products, skills to guide consumers in making informed decisions, and communication with other healthcare professionals to support appropriate and safe T&CM product use were all ranked with high levels of agreement. In order to effectively fulfill these responsibilities, pharmacists agreed that regulatory reforms, development of T&CM education and training, and access to quality products supported by high-quality evidence were needed. Conclusion: General agreement from across nine countries on eighteen professional responsibilities and several stakeholder actions serve as a foundation for the discussion and development of international T&CM guidelines for pharmacists.