Health information provided by retail health food outlets: RESULTS Part 2

RESULTS

Of the 23 stores where a recommendation was made, 15 (65%) based their recommendation on a published source of information. One store used a computer database, while 14 of 23 (61%) stores used the same text, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, by Balch and Balch (Table 3). Use of this book resulted in a statistically significant number of stores favouring the use of nutritional, as opposed to herbal, supplements. Employees at 79% of the stores using Prescription for Nutritional Healing as a reference, and at 33% of stores not using the book, recommended nutritional supplements. Findings from the stores that gave advice are shown in Table 4.

TABLE 3

Sources of information used by health food stores in the Central West Health Region of Ontario

Information source Number (%)

(n=23)

Prescription for Nutritional Healing (6) 14 (61 )
In-store computer system 1 (4)
No source 8 (35)

TABLE 4

Products recommended for the treatment of Crohn’s disease at health food stores in the Central West Health Region of Ontario that used, and those that did not use, Prescription for Nutritional Healing (6) as a reference

Supplements

recommended*

Did not use book (%) (n=9) Used book (%) (n = 14) Total (%) (n=23) P (at 95%)+
Herbal

No

4 (44%) 7 (50%) 11 (48%)
Yes 5 (56%) 7 (50%) 12 (52%)
Total 9 (100%) 14 (100%) 23 (100%) 0.795
Nutritional
No 6 (67%) 3 (21%) 9 (39%)
Yes 3 (33%) 11 (79%) 14 (61%)
Total 9 (100%) 14 (100%) 23 (100%) 0.030

*More than one recommendation possible; fThese numbers are suspect due to a small population

At 26% (six of 23) of stores where a recommendation was made, further supplementary information was provided. Supplementary information was classified as any changes in dose compared with that given in information sources or by manufacturers, as well as suggestions to call support groups, disease associations or a doctor. A visit with the physician was advised without recommending a specific product at only one store (Table 5).

TABLE 5

Supplementary information provided for a patient with Crohn’s disease by employees at health food stores in the Central West Health Region of Ontario

Supplementary information Number (%) (n=23)
Suggested seeing a doctor 3 (13%)
Gave other supplementary information 3 (13%)
Total 6 (26%)
Did not give any supplementary information 17 (74%)