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Physicians and nurses use and recommend dietary supplements: report of a survey

Annette Dickinson1*, Nicolas Boyon2 and Andrew Shao3

Author Affiliations

1 Dickinson Consulting, LLC, 3432 Denmark Avenue, 350 St Paul, MN 55123, USA

2 Ipsos Public Affairs, 1700 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, USA

3 Council for Responsible Nutrition, 1828 L Street, N.W, Suite 510, Washington, D.C. 20036, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2009, 8:29  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-8-29

Published: 1 July 2009



Numerous surveys show that dietary supplements are used by a large proportion of the general public, but there have been relatively few surveys on the prevalence of dietary supplement use among health professionals, including physicians and nurses. Even less information is available regarding the extent to which physicians and nurses recommend dietary supplements to their patients.


An online survey was administered in October 2007 to 900 physicians and 277 nurses by Ipsos Public Affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a trade association representing the dietary supplement industry. The health professionals were asked whether they used dietary supplements and their reasons for doing so, and whether they recommend dietary supplements to their patients.


The "Life...supplemented" Healthcare Professionals Impact Study (HCP Impact Study) found that 72% of physicians and 89% of nurses in this sample used dietary supplements regularly, occasionally, or seasonally.

use of dietary supplements was reported by 51% of physicians and 59% of nurses. The most common reason given for using dietary supplements was for overall health and wellness (40% of physicians and 48% of nurses), but more than two-thirds cited more than one reason for using the products. When asked whether they "ever recommend dietary supplements" to their patients, 79% of physicians and 82% of nurses said they did.


Physicians and nurses are as likely as members of the general public to use dietary supplements, as shown by comparing the results of this survey with data from national health and nutrition surveys. Also, most physicians and nurses recommend supplements to their patients, whether or not the clinicians use dietary supplements themselves.