Thesis Title

Healthcare Practitioners and Herbal Medicine: Knowledge, Education, Use, Beliefs, and Client Guidance

Date of Graduation

Fall 2002


Master of Science in Nursing



Committee Chair

Kathryn Hope

Subject Categories



Consumer use of herbal products for enhancing health and wellness is on the increase. Herbal medicines are perceived by the public to be safe because they are 'natural,' but herbal medicines do not undergo the scrutiny of the stringent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process. Herbs are active substances with the potential for side effects and drug interactions. Because of this, the public needs guidance on their use. The objective of this study was to examine the knowledge, education, use, beliefs, and client guidance of physicians and nurse practitioners regarding herbal medicine. This was a descriptive study of 112 healthcare practitioners in Southwest Missouri who responded to a mailed, self-report survey (a 42% response rate). Results of the survey revealed that most healthcare practitioners had general knowledge about herbal medicines and their use, in spite of their lack of formal education, and their lack of exposure to their own or others' use of herbal medicine. However, most healthcare practitioners (76%) in the sample did not perceive themselves as being knowledgeable about herbal medicine. Most respondents (84%) reported belief that herbal medicine has value, and that it is important for healthcare practitioners to have current knowledge on the topic (97%). Healthcare practitioners (82%) reported that they considered themselves to be receptive to the use of herbal medicines, and that they were willing to try herbal medicine themselves (70%) and recommend them to clients (67%). Most respondents in the sample reported that they provide guidance and counseling to their clients about herbal medicine use (88%), side effects (86%), and interactions (84%). Future research and education in the area of herbal medicine is needed to provide healthcare practitioners with knowledge to guide clients.


© Christi Wilson