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Informing the homeopathic practice for Turkish pharmacists: reviewing the example of Portuguese community pharmacies
Received18 May 2016
revised21 February 2017
accepted28 February 2017
20 December 2017 (online)
Introduction: Alternative and complementary therapy systems, such as homeopathy, have long been used around the world. Since 1995 homeopathy has been officially recognized in Europe as a system of medicine or a medical specialty. Portuguese community pharmacists have long-standing experience with homeopathic products. By contrast, healthcare professionals in Turkey are less experienced with homeopathic practice although there is a new regulatory setting in place. There are a limited number of studies addressing pharmacists' role within the homeopathic system.
Aim: To investigate the attitudes (knowledge, feelings and behaviour) of experienced Portuguese pharmacy practitioners who deal with homeopathy, and thus to inform Turkish pharmacy practice and policy on homeopathy-related success factors.
Methods: A qualitative cross-sectional design was followed, using semi-structured and face-to-face individual interviews with purposively selected Portuguese pharmacists experienced with homeopathic medicines. Audio-recordings were transcribed verbatim and the transcriptions imported into QSR NVivo v10 software for qualitative coding and analysis. Using a thematic content approach, the extracted codes were grouped and indexed by recurrent themes through a reflective procedure and constant comparison.
Results & discussion: Six general themes emerged, the most relevant being participants' feelings of gratitude for the ability to work in homeopathy; other themes were a helpful regulatory body, clear practice boundaries, scientific support and product quality assurance. Specialized homeopathic education was considered the most important factor for success. This was related to patients' positive perceptions and acceptance, suggesting an increase in public awareness through the pharmacy network.
Conclusions: Portuguese pharmacists' attitudes towards their homeopathic practices highlighted the key elements for success in a field that is usually distant from traditional pharmaceutical education and practice. The present findings provide guidance for Turkish pharmacists willing to expand their professional scope and to embrace complementary medicines.
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