Vitamin and herbal extracts use in patients diagnosed with dementia: what do health professionals know and think?

Tabet, Naji, Khan, Rummana and Idle, Helen (2011) Vitamin and herbal extracts use in patients diagnosed with dementia: what do health professionals know and think? Aging & Mental Health, 15 (2). pp. 267-71. ISSN 1360-7863

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Vitamins and herbal extracts are associated with various side effects, potential serious drug interactions and mostly unproven efficacy. Yet, research has shown that nearly half of dementia patients are receiving such medication. Health professionals caring for older people with dementia are central to the safe management of this practice. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the views, knowledge and practices of professionals in relation to this issue. Such information is essential to identify potential problems and to inform targeted intervention strategies.


Cross-sectional survey carried out across East Sussex in the UK based on a self-administered postal questionnaire.


Out of 350 questionnaires sent, 200 responded (57%). Health professionals greatly underestimated the prevalence of over-the-counter medication use (68% believed that less than 10% of patients receive such medication) when compared to published data. A considerable minority (38.7%) reported that vitamins and herbal extracts should be recommended for individuals at risk of developing dementia, despite lack of evidence to support such use. Further, only 24.4% always or often discussed potential side effects/interactions of these supplements with their patients.


The views and practices of many health professionals are inconsistent with current best practice. Many professionals do not appear to enquire routinely about non-prescribed medicinal products and adequate advice may not be given to patients/carers. The data highlights a significant issue and calls for urgent action through targeted educational interventions directed not only at dementia patients and their carers, but at health professionals as well.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Neuroscience
Subjects: R Medicine
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0581 Specialties of internal medicine > RC0952 Geriatrics
Depositing User: Tracey O'Gorman
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2012 10:06
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2018 10:32
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