CAM in the Czech Republic – The Interest of the Czech Public in CAM

The media image of complementary and alternative medicine in the Czech Republic does not correspond to reality regarding the extent to which CAM has developed and is utilized abroad. The media tends to mainly focus on the negative cases. Despite this, CAM methods are not unknown in the Czech Republic; as many Czechs regularly seek out and use such therapies for various reasons. A more positive view of CAM is spreading among Czechs thanks to personal experience and recommendations from other with experience of CAM.

There is very little objective information about Czechs’ attitudes towards alternative medicine. The Czech Republics one of the EU countries that has not yet provided international research teams with the necessary information regarding CAM in the Czech Republic. Therefore, the Czech Republic does not feature in any international surveys (by WHO, CAMbrella, NATO etc.).

However, there is a certain amount data, from which tentative conclusions can be drawn. The following chapter presents some of this data.

STEM / MARK Survey: 85% of Czechs Would Like Alternative Medicine to Be Officially Recognized

On Aug. 27, 2014, an article entitled "Recognition of Alternative Medicine would welcome 85% of people" (260). A survey conducted by the company STEM / MARK showed that the overwhelming majority of Czechs would like certain alternative methods to be officially recognized and even incorporated into the public health insurance systems.

Herbal treatment is one of the traditional methods that is well-known and popular in the Czech Republic – 80% of the respondents have either used it themselves or know someone who has. Most of the respondents are also familiar with acupuncture and acupressure and consider them to be beneficial. In addition, Czechs also perceive chiropractic and homeopathy to be beneficial. These are the five most commonly used alternative therapies in the Czech Republic and Czechs are open to seeing them incorporated in the national health insurance systems..

Interestingly enough, 90% of the respondents agreed that whether or not the effects of a treatment have been scientifically proven does not say anything about its efficacy. The following are excerpts from the article:

“Prague – Eighty-five percent of Czechs would like to see certain alternative methods recognized as an official supplement to conventional treatments and to be included in health insurance policies. However, except for herbal treatments, very few people have actually had any personal experience with any alternative treatments. This was the result of a survey by STEM / MARK.” (261)

“According to almost 90% of the population, the fact that the effect of an alternative method has not been scientifically proven, does not mean that there is no effect. The same number of people also think that some alternative methods may work, even though they have not been scientifically proven. The survey was conducted in August on a sample of 500 people aged 15 to 59.” (262)

Survey Results: 90% of Czech Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Assistants Are Positive towards CAM

The journal "Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacy" published the article What Czech Pharmacists and Technicians believe and recommend about CAM therapies. The authors of the article were Dr. Jitka Pokladníková, professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy at Charles University, and Dr. Lie Desiree, professor at the University of Southern California (Keck School of Medicine).
Dr. Jitka Pokladníková, has worked with integrative medicine for many years and has developed her expertise at top research centres and clinics in the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden. 
She also has experience from hospital pharmacies and clinics at Stanford University and Toronto, Canada. Once she returned to the Czech Republic, she founded a working group for Integrative and Complementary Medicine at the Faculty of Pharmacy at Charles University. The working group collaborates with her previous colleagues at research centres at prestigious institutes such as Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, Stanford University in the United States, and the University of California in Irvine and Los Angeles. (263) This working group is one of the few initiatives connected with modern complementary, alternative and integrative medicine in the Czech Republic. The article is cited below:

Background: No data exists regarding the attitude of practicing Czech pharmacists toward CAM and their interaction with patients about CAM therapies.
Objectives: Describe attitudes of Czech pharmacists and pharmacy technicians toward complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), their self-reported CAM use and client recommendation behaviors.
Methods: Design: A cross-sectional study using a validated self-administered survey (CAM Health Belief Questionnaire (CHBQ) and other questions). Setting: Community and hospital pharmacies. Subjects: Convenience sample of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. Outcome measures: CHBQ score, self-reported CAM use, recommendation to clients and perceived CAM efficacy and safety.
Results: Response rate was 99% (203 of 205). 80% were pharmacists and 20% pharmacy technicians. CHBQ mean score was 50.3 (maximum score 70) affirming positive attitudes toward CAM. Herbs, vitamins, massage and homeopathy were the most common therapies reported as used by respondents. Self-reported use of therapies was correlated with self-reported recommendation to patients. Ninety five percent recommended CAM; over 90% perceived CAM as effective and safe. Self-reported use of evidence-based resources was minimal.
Conclusions: Czech pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have positive attitudes about CAM. Pharmacist and pharmacy technicians’ recommendation of CAM therapies to clients is based on a culture of belief and self-use rather than knowledge of current evidence. Strategies for improving recommendation practices will need to address self-use and the inclusion of CAM evidence-based medicine training.“ (264)