Background: Understanding patterns and drivers for natural health product (NHP) usage
among immigrants is essential in the provision of appropriate health care; many studies have elucidated
NHP utilization among immigrants; however, few have considered impacts of concurrent NHP
and prescription medication usage.
Objective: The study aims to determine new immigrant NHP usage patterns (including concurrent
usage with prescription medications) and to discern economic impacts driving concurrent usage.
Methods: A survey questionnaire was administered to local new immigrants during English Language
Results: Most participants understood the NHP definition and would take an NHP for the same disease
or condition they would normally take a prescription medication for. Many participants agreed
that NHPs are not safe however were unable to provide robust examples of unsafe NHP usage. With
regard to purchases of medicines for short and long term illnesses, a high percentage of participants
would purchase the prescription medication for a short term illness over the NHP; however this percentage
decreases in the event of a long term illness, with more participants relying on NHPs to remedy
their long term illness symptoms.
Conclusion: Pharmacoeconomics tends to be a major driver for immigrant utilization of NHPs, and
is a stronger influencer of use compared to ethnicity or parenteral usage of such products. This pharmacoeconomic
correlation in the preference to use NHPs over prescription medications tends to be
more observable for chronic and long term conditions (compared to short term illnesses).