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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 294638, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/294638
Research Article

Herbal Medicine in Primary Healthcare in Germany: The Patient's Perspective

1Department of General Practice and Health Services Research, University Hospital Heidelberg, Voßstraße 2, 69115 Heidelberg, Germany
2Family Medicine Practice, Academic Teaching Practice, University of Heidelberg, Hauptstraße 120, 69168 Wiesloch, Germany

Received 24 August 2012; Accepted 12 December 2012

Academic Editor: Annie Shirwaikar

Copyright © 2012 Stefanie Joos et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Herbal medicine (HM) is one of the most widely used Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies throughout the world. The WHO has recognized HM as an essential component of primary healthcare. The aim of this study was to explore patients' attitudes towards using HM, their sources of information and the role of costs. Within a qualitative research approach, semi-standardized interviews with 18 patients using HM were conducted and analyzed according to Mayring's content analysis. Patients highlighted their active role and perceived autonomy choosing HM. Most interviewees experienced HM as better, with more sustainable effects and fewer side effects compared to conventional medicine. All media, family, friends, and healthcare professionals were reported as sources of information. Some patients complained that doctors and pharmacists have insufficient knowledge of HM. Most patients expressed their regret that HM is not reimbursed by statutory health insurances but also their general willingness to pay extra for HM. The main challenge for German primary care, besides the reintroduction of reimbursement, is the promotion of knowledge and skill development in HM. This is to ensure patient safety and work in partnership with patients. Appropriate strategies for education must be tailored to the specific needs of health professional groups.