Herbs and dietary supplements (HDS) are widely used, and health professionals are in an ideal position to educate patients about them. However, it is sometimes difficult to evaluate their risks and benefits with limited information and what is worse, many health professionals in Japan are unconcerned with HDS. Therefore, we aimed to develop an internet-based educational system to periodically provide information about HDS to medical doctors and pharmacists in order to increase their awareness. Monographs about selected HDS, accompanied with educational quizzes, were prepared to meet pharmacists' needs. Examples of clinical Q&A cases about drug interactions involving HDS were prepared. The material was distributed weekly to registered health professionals by e-mail and via WWW pages. Two hundred and forty-four health professionals evaluated the system by questionnaire. The questionnaire results revealed that 1) more than 75% of responders evaluated the system as useful, 2) compilation of information into educational quizzes and cases encouraged health professionals to learn about HDS with less difficulty, and 3) e-mails led them to learn periodically and to be more concerned about the safety of HDS. In conclusion, the developed information system for HDS was proved to be useful and should serve to improve the understanding of health professionals about this issue.
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