Are people who use "natural drugs" aware of their potentially harmful side effects and reporting to family physician?

Shmuel M. Giveon, Nicky Liberman, Shmuel Klang, Ernesto Kahan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


We studied the extent of patients' utilization of complementary medicine (CM), and their knowledge and attitude regarding it in 740 patients visiting 25 randomly family medicine practices. One-third reported using some kind of CM, usually a natural drug (67.6%), often together with conventional drugs. Among the users of natural drugs, 56.2% believed they caused no side effects, 44.7% never reported natural drug usage to their physician, and 11% did so only rarely. There was a significant correlation (P=0.03) between the belief that natural drugs can cause adverse effects and the tendency to report their usage to the family physician. Compared to nonusers, the typical user of any kind of CM was older (with a 1.05-fold increase for every year of age), defined his/her health status as bad (8.6-fold higher incidence), visited the family doctor more often, and was of Eastern European origin. In conclusion, although the use of natural drugs is extensive, patients' knowledge of their potential adverse effects is poor. A public educational campaign, with inclusion of the need to report such usage to the family physician, should be implemented, and questions on the use of complementary medicine/natural drugs should be incorporated as an integral part of the history taking by primary care physicians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-11
Number of pages7
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Adverse effects
  • Complementary medicine
  • Family medicine
  • Natural drugs
  • Primary care
  • Side effects

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