Probiotics in the management of gastrointestinal disease: Analysis of the attitudes and prescribing practices of gastroenterologists and surgeons

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Probiotics are increasingly advocated in the management of various gastrointestinal disorders. The aim of this study was to investigate the current attitudes and prescribing practices of surgeons and gastroenterologists for probiotics in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders.

METHODS:

A questionnaire was designed to look at the frequency of probiotic prescribing, types of probiotics used, indications for and duration of treatment and clinicians' experiences with probiotic use. A total of 220 questionnaires were mailed to consultant gastroenterologists and surgeons practicing in the UK.

RESULTS:

The overall response rate was 80.5%, of which 69.5% of respondents said they recommended or prescribed probiotic food supplements to their patients, including 53.4% of surgeons and 80.8% of gastroenterologists (P = 0.00013). The most popular probiotic supplements among surgeons were probiotic-containing yoghurt and drinks (79.5% and 71.8%, respectively), whereas VSL#3 was more popular with gastroenterologists (83.3%). The most popular indications were irritable bowel syndrome (70.7% of prescribers) and pouchitis (67.5% of prescribers). Many respondents prescribed long-term probiotics. Most consultants had been prescribing probiotics for a period of 1 to 5 years.

CONCLUSION:

Probiotics are popular among gastroenterologists and surgeons in the UK for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. Further evidence to support their routine use, by way of large, well-designed randomized controlled trials, is necessary.

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