The aims of the study were to determine the attitudes of General Practitioners (GPs) on herbal therapies and dietary supplements (H/DS) and to identify factors that predict their recommendations. A self-administered mailed survey was carried out in New South Wales, Australia in 2004. 288 GPs participated in the survey. Twenty percent of GPs had education in this topic, and less than one-third felt confident advising their patients. Forty-seven percent of GPs did not inquire about the use of H/DS regularly. The key factors that predicted GPs recommending H/DS were: belief that H/DS are useful for more than one condition, belief that most H/DS have some benefit, discussion of use of H/DS in the last 30 days, personal use of H/DS, and fewer years of clinical practice. GPs primary concerns about the use of H/DS were regarding potential side effects and the lack of an evidence-base. We came to the conclusion that GPs are infrequently discussing H/DS with their patients but are interested in learning more and obtaining better resources. The underlying predictive factors of GPs motivations and opinions for discussing and recommending H/DS offers a new perspective on the need for research and regulation on H/DS, education and training of GPs about H/DS.
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