Research of the patients’ attitude in their use of plant products (traditional plant medicinal products, plant food supplements, teas) in Bulgaria

Vladislav Bachev, Iliyana Yaneva, Ignat Ignatov


At present there is sufficient scientific information available for a few plants only regarding their pharmacological action and the risks associated with their usage. A great number of different plant types are utilized based on their traditional use. Plant usage for supporting of health is one of the most ancient methods in the world and in our country. Different literature sources indicate that consumers use plant products in order to maintain their health such as tea, juices, plant medicinal products, food additives etc. Preliminary pilot research at home shows that Bulgarian patient in most cases does not separate among the different types of plant products; he/she is not informed that some plants may have side effects, and that some plants must not be taken together with certain medicinal products. Bulgarian patient trusts easily incorrect information regarding plant products usage that is published in Internet, printed publications and even programmes, broadcasted by our electronic media.

The aim of current publication is to research the attitude of citizens about plant product use and their influence over the health, which are intended to purchase without them being subject to prescription and medical observation. Such a research is first of its kind for Bulgaria. One of the tasks of this investigation is to establish the demographic characteristics of participants in this research; reasons for use of plant products; sources of information about plant products; information that citizens have referring the plant products etc. A study was conducted (Cross-sectional survey design) with 400 people (N=400), aged 18-80 years in 2017, who expressed willingness and agreed to fill a questionnaire with a guaranteed anonymity. Methods used are: sociological – direct individual paper-based survey, documentary method; the statistical analysis of data from the survey cards was performed by statistical package SPSS 20.0. Used critical level of relevance is α=0,05. The corresponding null hypothesis is being rejected at confidence level of р ˂0,05. Limitation – the study was conducted only in the city of Sofia, where based on data from National Statistical Institute, there is concentrated population of 1 325 429 people, from total of 7 050 034 people for the whole country, and this has been taken into consideration during result analysis. The main conclusions that can be drawn in general from conducted research are that women respondents prevail in number in comparison with men; the relative share of respondents who do not distinguish between plant and medicinal products is higher; predominant is the relative share of respondents, women, as well as men, who do not know that plant products can have side effects, and that some plant products must not be taken together with certain medicines. Overall, from the representative sample is predominant the relative share of non-users of plant products that can be explained to a certain extent with the fact, that no rural population was questioned, who traditionally collects plants from nature and prefers self-healing with them due to its lower income. From the study we can reach the conclusion that doctors do not provide sufficient information to their patients regarding the effects of plant products, and it is not in the interest of patient safety.

The recorded information from conducted research shows that in our country exist problems in usage of plant products for health purposes, which can be bought over the counter without doctor’s prescription and observation. The safety of patient when using plant products should be a number one priority in the national health policies.

Keywords: attitude of citizens, usage, plant products, Bulgarian patients

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