Herbal Remedies or Conventional Medicines: How do Students Choose?

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Wong, Kwan
Blum, Ilya
Mann, Linda
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Background: With the increasing popularity of herbal remedies, the objectives of this study are to investigate the interrelationships among knowledge, attitudes and usage; and to compare factors related to reliance on herbals versus conventional medicines by university students. Methods: University Ethics Review Board approved the study. The validated questionnaire was administered to a convenience sample of 318 students from randomly selected university classes in February 2001.Descriptive summaries of knowledge, attitude and usage were obtained and four indexes were compiled and inter-correlated. Characteristics of users and non-users of herbals were contrasted. Results: The participants were mostly female with an average age of 20.2 years. Most practiced a healthy lifestyle and were fairly satisfied with their present state of health. Both perceived and actual knowledge (modest to thorough) results were higher for conventional medicines than herbals. Ninety-eight percent of students use or have used conventional medicines as compared to 70% for herbals. Fifty-five percent of all respondents and 63% of current users of herbals indicated that they are more likely to use herbals in the future. Most supported integration of herbals with conventional medical care but 44% had no opinion on herbals having the same medical status as conventional medicines. Interpretation: A higher reliance on self-medication indicates students’ desire to take greater control of their own health care. A dramatic prediction for future use, along with an unwillingness to consult doctors and a low level of knowledge on herbal remedies, potentiates health hazards from dangerous side effects and adverse reactions.
Herbal remedies , Integrative health care