Highest quality complementary medicines resources identified

17 March, 2009

Health professionals and consumers can now refer to certain complementary medicine information resources with confidence, following a review and categorisation of existing databases commissioned by the National Prescribing Service Ltd (NPS).

The study was conducted by the Mater Health Services Brisbane, Bond University and the University of Queensland between June and November 2008.

Researchers considered the technical and content quality and clinical utility of 26 short-listed complementary medicine information resources, and ranked the most useful sources in two tiers. Of those reviewed, six were identified as being of highest quality (Tier One) and three were identified as being of high quality (Tier Two).

“Research conducted by NPS in 2008 found that in spite of widespread use of complementary medicines, both health professionals and consumers struggle to find reliable and accurate information about the safety and efficacy of these medicines,” NPS CEO, Dr Lynn Weekes said.

“Information gaps about complementary medicines were first identified in 2003 by the Expert Committee on Complementary Medicines in the Health System. People have been waiting a long time for an independent review of existing resources and trusted recommendations on which sources to use.”

A number of recommendations have been made by the authors including that the highest quality sources be made available in a number of formats for health professionals and consumers.

“Formats might include online and paper-based versions with brief monographs, and complementary medicine-drug interaction alerts incorporated into clinical software,” research Project Manager, Dr Treasure McGuire said.

“We also believe organisations responsible for providing complementary medicine information to consumers and health professionals should have access to either the Natural Standard Professional Database or Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (Health Professional Edition), and actively refer people to the resources ranked as Tier One or Tier Two,” Dr McGuire said.