Students' perception, familiarity, and knowledge in the use of complementary and alternative herbal supplements in health promotion

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Zimmerman, Caitlyn A.
Kandiah, Jayanthi
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Thesis (B.?.)
Honors College
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This study sought to examine perception, familiarity, and knowledge related to college students' use of herbal supplements in health promotion. Students at a Mid-Western university were invited to participate in a 12-itemized Perception, Familiarity, and Knowledge Survey (PFKS). The PFKS online survey included questions regarding demographics, perceptions of complementary and alternative medicine, familiarity, and knowledge of gingko, ginseng, St. John's Wort, garlic, echinacea, and cinnamon. Two-hundred and eighty-six college students successfully completed the study. Chi-Square analysis, showed that 80.8% of students were familiar with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) (p = .000). Majority were familiar with ginkgo (82.4%), ginseng (96.1%), St. John's Wort (78.4%), garlic (98.4%), echinacea (65.6%), and cinnamon (96.8%). Despite familiarity of these herbs, 45.1% - 74.1% of the participants were unsure of the herb's effectiveness in preventing diseases or promoting good health. Only 43.3% had no prior knowledge of the six herbs. Students perceived barriers to CAM awareness were insufficient education (26.0%), lack of scientific evidence (25.9%), and lack of trained professionals (17.5%). Many students (85.8%) desired educational courses on CAM therapies, with nutrition professors being ranked highest by 88.0%. Over 60.0% of the students thought conventional medicine could benefit from CAM and that it should be integrated into healthcare practices. In conclusion, college-students appear to be highly interested in increasing their knowledge on CAM and herbal supplements, but currently have little experience and familiarity with herbal supplements.