Date Approved

2011

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Health Sciences

Committee Member

Rubina S. Haque, Ph.D, R.D.

Committee Member

Judith T. Brooks, Ph.D, R.D.

Committee Member

Anahita Mistry, Ph.D

Abstract

Background: Probiotics have the potential to be used as a preventive agent or adjuvant therapy for various medical conditions, and recent research is beginning to illuminate some of the associated benefits. Some clinicians currently prescribe probiotics in practice. Understanding physicians’ beliefs and practice patterns regarding the use of probiotics will help identify current practices, barriers preventing their acceptance, and the sources of information that impact clinical practice.

Objective: To identify and describe physicians’ beliefs and practice patterns regarding the use of probiotics.

Methods: A cross-sectional online questionnaire was administered to 130 physicians employed by or affiliated with Danville Regional Medical Center, a 350- bed, acute care facility located in Danville, VA. Data were analyzed using descriptive frequencies, Pearson’s chi-square, and the Student’s t-test.

Results: Of the 27 valid responses (20.8%), 55.6% of physicians reported using probiotics in clinical practice (n = 15). Those who used probiotics were significantly more likely to agree that probiotics have clinically beneficial effects (p < 0.017) and pose minimal risk (p < 0.003) than those who don’t use probiotics (n = 12, 44.4%). Physicians using probiotics were also less likely to agree that more clinical evidence is needed to support the benefits of probiotics for their specialty (p < 0.012), and more likely to indicate “peer practice patterns” (p < 0.032) as prompting their use, whereas those not using probiotics were more likely to choose “original research ii i articles” (p < 0.006) as a source of information that would potentially change their practice with regard to probiotics.

Conclusions: Physicians’ beliefs regarding the use of probiotics differ between those who recommend their use in clinical practice and those who do not. Physicians not using probiotics feel that more evidence-based research is needed to support their use in clinical practice.

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