CRN study finds many healthcare professionals recommend dietary supplements

WASHINGTON The Council for Responsible Nutrition on Tuesday released the results of its “Life…supplemented” Healthcare Professionals Impact Study, finding that more than three quarters of U.S. physicians (79 percent) and nurses (82 percent) recommend dietary supplements to their patients. The study also found that an almost equal number—72 percent of physicians and 89 percent of nurses—personally use vitamin, mineral herbal and other supplements either regularly, occasionally or seasonally, which is a higher percentage than the 68 percent of adults who report they take nutritional or dietary supplements, the Council noted.

“This survey, which is a first for our industry, shows that healthcare professionals believe that dietary supplements are part of a healthy lifestyle,” stated Steve Mister, president and chief executive officer of CRN. “Not only are they taking supplements for their own benefit, but they’re also recommending them to their patients. The approval of our products from reputable, respectable healthcare professionals, such as doctors and nurses, should be encouraging to consumers who already incorporate supplements into their wellness routine, and a wake-up call to those who haven’t yet started to do so.”

Of the 72 percent of physicians who use supplements, 85 percent also recommend them to their patients; and of the 28 percent of physicians who do not use supplements, three out of five (62 percent) still recommend them.

“It is common sense that physicians who personally take supplements also recommend them to their patients,” stated Donnica Moore, president of the Sapphire Women’s Health Group and a member of the study’s physician advisor team. “It’s interesting that the majority of physicians who don’t use supplements still recognize their patients may benefit from them. Although the study doesn’t provide an explanation, it may simply be that physicians recommend supplements to their patients for specific conditions that don’t apply to the physician’s own personal health.”

The number of physicians recommending dietary supplements to their patients is highest among obstetrician/gynecologists (91 percent), followed by primary care physicians (84 percent). Primary care physicians, OB/GYNs and nurses recommend supplements as often for “general well-being/prevention” as they do for special conditions, while other specialists recommend supplements more often for special conditions. 

Almost three quarters of physicians (72 percent) and even more nurses (87 percent) reported they personally ask their patients about their use of dietary supplements. Also, 40 percent of physicians and 43 percent of nurses report that when discussing supplements with their patients, they, not their patients, are the ones who bring up the subject most often. 

“Our industry needs to continue this type of research,” noted Judy Blatman, vice president, communications, CRN. “It’s important that we use this as benchmark data, continuing to do these types of surveys to see what trends develop in the upcoming years. … Healthcare professionals are an important audience for our industry and for our consumers and we must continue to be proactive in this area.”

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