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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Recommending probiotics - more than a gut feeling? An online survey to investigate medical providers' probiotic recommendations
by Lyons, Ashley, M.S., Bastyr University, 2015, 55; 1593223
Abstract (Summary)

Introduction and Objectives Despite an ever-growing plethora of research, applications and public interest in probiotics, there is a paucity of research investigating medical providers’ probiotic recommendations to their patients. Therefore, this cross-sectional study was designed and conducted via an anonymous online survey through REDCap to investigate complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers’ and allopathic healthcare providers’ probiotic recommendations in terms of the following parameters: A. Health conditions targeted B. Probiotic food and supplement forms C. Factors influencing probiotic recommendations.

Methods A survey was created de novo to investigate US medical providers’ probiotic recommendations. Bastyr IRB exemption was obtained. Marketing and PR staff were contacted about disseminating study purpose and survey link to medical providers at the following institutions: the 6 US naturopathic medical schools’ teaching clinics, 6 geographically proximal acupuncture and oriental medicine schools’ teaching clinics and 6 geographically proximal non-naturopathic medical school-affiliated teaching hospitals.

Results Thirty-six respondents completed the survey. Because 27 (75.0%) reported practicing under ND/NMD credentials, only NDs/NMDs were included in final study analyses. 70.4% of the sample self-identified as CAM providers. 81.5% of the sample recommended probiotics through live probiotic dairy. 92.6% of the sample recommended proprietary probiotic supplements. 100.0% of the sample recommended probiotic capsules. Via a five-point Likert scale indicating “1” as “never” to “5” as “always,” the sample reported recommending probiotics most frequently for post-antibiotic treatment with a mean of 4.78 and a 95% CI (4.57, 4.99). Via a scale indicating “1” as “not at all” to “5” as “very much,” the sample reported being influenced most by “other” factors, including personal experience, with a mean of 4.13 and a 95% CI (3.66, 4.60) when recommending probiotics. A Mann-Whitney test indicated a significant difference between CAM and non-CAM providers in terms of influence by popular culture (p = .049). The mean extent of influence by popular culture was 2.26 with a 95% CI (1.91, 2.62) within CAM providers and 1.63 with a 95% CI (1.00, 2.25) within non-CAM providers.

Conclusion Most sampled NDs/NMDs recommended probiotics to their patients: A. After antibiotic treatment B. Via dairy and proprietary capsules C. Due to influential factors such as personal experience D. Not differently depending on CAM self-identification; caveat: CAM providers’ probiotic recommendations were more influenced by popular culture.

Due to the limited sampling timeframe, viable numbers of data were not collected from clinicians with diverse practice credentials. Furthermore, findings are inconclusive even for ND/NMD credentialed practitioners due to the low sampling rate. Therefore, it is vital to continue to investigate medical providers’ probiotic recommendations by surveying a larger and more diverse practitioner population.

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sasagawa, Masa
Commitee: Allott, Kristen, Helsel, Diane
School: Bastyr University
Department: Nutrition
School Location: United States -- Washington
Source: MAI 54/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Medicine, Nutrition
Keywords: Cam, Dysbiosis, Medical, Probiotics, Providers, Survey
Publication Number: 1593223
ISBN: 978-1-321-89599-5
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