Independent Naturopathic Education Services
The site is a work in progress at the moment. We’re in the beginning stages of developing an independent Continuing Professional Education (CPE) resource for health professionals. Over the coming months, there will be a number of lectures and other resources added to the site.
What is independent CPE?
Continuing Professional Education (also referred to as Continuing Professional Development and Continuing Medical Education) is integral for all health professionals in order to maintain appropriate standards of care. Independent CPE is education provided by individuals or organisations whose primary income is not derived from the sale of therapeutic products or devices (ARONAH, 2013).
Do naturopaths and Western herbalists rely too heavily on industry-based CPE?
In Australia, data suggests that naturopaths and Western herbalists rely on a number of sources of information to guide their prescribing – with textbooks being the most utilised sources of information. However, one study found that 43% of practitioners relied on manufacturer literature to help inform clinical decision-making (Braun et al., 2013). Other Australian research suggests an even higher reliance on industry-sourced information, with the information resources most often used by practitioners in this study being professional newsletters (91%), reference textbook (72%), and seminars run by manufacturers (70%)(Smith et al., 2005). In their report on the practice and regulatory requirements of naturopaths and Western herbalists, Lin et al (2009) concluded that it was highly likely that product manufacturers were the major providers of continuing education for CAM practitioners. Thus the evidence suggests that the naturopath and Western herbalist professions have an over-reliance on industry-based sources of information to guide their practice (Lin et al., 2009).
Why is independent CPE important?
A significant amount of research has been done evaluating the impact of pharmaceutical industry-provided CPE on doctor’s prescribing patterns. The research has consistently found that the rate of drug prescriptions by physicians increases substantially after they attend industry-sponsored seminars (Wazana, 2000). Additionally, the acceptance of small gifts such as free meals or subsidised accommodation or travel costs has been found to be associated with positive physician attitudes towards pharmaceutical representatives and their companies, as well as an unconscious impulse to reciprocate (Brennan et al., 2006).
Importantly, the majority of doctors did not believe that industry-provided CPE, acceptance of free gifts, or subsidisation of conference costs would bias their prescribing patterns (Rutledge et al., 2003).
Over the past decade, there has been a strong push to separate the pharmaceutical industry from CPE within the medical profession (Relman, 2001). The naturopath and Western herbalist professions have been lagging behind in this regard, but this is beginning to change.
The expanding role of independent CPE
The Australian Register of Naturopaths and Herbalists (ARONAH) has recognised the need for the profession to develop a rigorous, independent CPE culture. The ARONAH guidelines specify that registered naturopathic and herbalist practitioners can gain a maximum or 10 CPE points per year from education programs delivered by non-independent entities (e.g., companies selling therapeutic goods). This equates to a maximum of 50% of the annual CPE requirement for the first two years, 33% for the following year, and 25% of total CPE thereafter (ARONAH, 2013).
The CPE challenge
We, at Illuminate Natural Medicine, would like to set a challenge for the naturopath and Western herbalist professions. This challenge is to achieve 75% of your required CPE from independent sources this year. You’ll find some options available on this site (with many more coming over the next few months), but also in the links section, where a number of alternate providers of independent CPE are highlighted. And don’t forget your professional associations, some of these provide excellent industry-independent CPE options.
Feedback and suggested topic areas you would like to see covered would be most welcome. Once you're logged into Illuminate, you can submit comments and discussion points.
Thanks for visiting and we look forward to hearing from you!
Yours in Health,
Jason and Dawn
- ARONAH. 2013. Guidelines on Continuing Professional Development. http://www.aronah.org/aronah-documents/ Accessed: 20/05/2013
- Braun, L. A., Spitzer, O., Tiralongo, E., Wilkinson, J. M., Bailey, M., Poole, S. G. & Dooley, M. 2013. Naturopaths and Western herbalists' attitudes to evidence, regulation, information sources and knowledge about popular complementary medicines. Complement Ther Med, 21, 58-64. PMID 23374206
- Brennan, T. A., Rothman, D. J., Blank, L., Blumenthal, D., Chimonas, S. C., Cohen, J. J., Goldman, J., Kassirer, J. P., Kimball, H., Naughton, J. & Smelser, N. 2006. Health industry practices that create conflicts of interest: a policy proposal for academic medical centers. JAMA, 295, 429-33. PMID 16434633
- Lin, V., Mccabe, P., Bensoussan, A., Myers, S., Cohen, M., Hill, S. & Howse, G. 2009. The practice and regulatory requirements of naturopathy and western herbal medicine in Australia. Risk Manag Healthc Policy, 2, 21-33. PMID 22312205
- Relman, A. S. 2001. Separating continuing medical education from pharmaceutical marketing. JAMA, 285, 2009-2012. PMID 11308441
- Rutledge, P., Crookes, D., Mckinstry, B. & Maxwell, S. R. 2003. Do doctors rely on pharmaceutical industry funding to attend conferences and do they perceive that this creates a bias in their drug selection? Results from a questionnaire survey. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf, 12, 663-7. PMID 14762982
- Smith, C., Martin, K., Hotham, E., Semple, S., Bloustien, G. & Rao, D. 2005. Naturopaths practice behaviour: provision and access to information on complementary and alternative medicines. BMC Complement Altern Med, 5, 15. PMID 16004617
- Wazana, A. 2000. Physicians and the pharmaceutical industry: is a gift ever just a gift? JAMA, 283, 373-80. PMID 10647801