Knowledge of probiotics by Nigerian clinicians. – K. C. Anukam, E. O. Osazuwa and R. Greigor
A reasonable proportion of clinicians in Canada, America and Europe may be familiar with the use of probiotics and some have clearly been involved in probiotic research for sometime. However, we hypothesized that medical practitioners in Nigeria are yet to grasp the concept of using probiotics either as health promoting foods or as biotherapeutic agents for the treatment of diarrhea or urogenital infections. In order to determine the extent of awareness on the use of probiotics among qualified medical practitioners in Benin City, Nigeria, a survey was carried out. The survey involved the use of close-ended and open-ended structured questionnaires and 125 randomly sampled medical practitioners. The survey asked about current knowledge on the subject, and provided information to gauge the potential receptivity to using or recommending probiotics in patient care. 62 medical practitioners responded. The results showed that 95.2% of the respondents were not familiar with the term probiotics, and all (100%) indicated that they would like more information on the subject. Up to 75% of the participants raised some concerns bordering on the safety and receptivity of probiotics products among the prospective users. Many respondents (66.1%) stated that they would need positive clinical trial data to be convinced on the efficacy of probiotics before prescribing or recommending it to their patients. To access such data, 64.5% preferred medical textbooks, while only 27.4% indicated peer-reviewed medical journals, perhaps a reflection of the fact that many practitioners in Nigeria are busy and do not have easy access to such journals. Nevertheless, 64.5% were in favour of probiotics and stated they would approve it for health maintenance. 37% stated a preference for an oral capsule and 45.1% yogurts. The findings revealed that in spite of the concerns expressed, many clinicians are willing to participate in clinical trials on probiotics and are extremely interested to learn more about scientifically and clinically proven products.
Keywords: Probiotics, knowledge, Nigeria, clinicians.