BACKGROUND: Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Many studies reported that knowledge and attitudes of health professionals have a medium level of knowledge of probiotics.
OBJECTIVE: Evaluate knowledge and practice styles among pediatricians working in different regions of Saudi Arabia regarding probiotics.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.
SETTING: Pediatric hospitals; central, western, eastern, northern, and southern regions, Saudi Arabia.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: A survey of 550 pediatric providers (PPs) conducted and completed by pediatricians which included pediatric residents (PRs), pediatric specialist (PSs) and pediatric consultants (PCs) and pediatric gastroenterologists (PGs). They were asked anonymously about knowledge and practice of probiotics.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Evaluate knowledge and practice styles among pediatricians working in Saudi Arabia regarding probiotics.
SAMPLE SIZE: 550 pediatric providers (PPs) in the cross-sectional analysis.
RESULTS: A response rate of 82% yielded 452 questionnaires. Among respondents, 261 of 452 (57.7%) were aware of the definition of probiotics. There were significant differences in the percentage of participants who have little knowledge of probiotics (P<0.05), with a maximum in PRs and a minimum in PGs. The most common probiotic used by all participants was lactobacillus acidophilus (63.3%), and mycobacterium avium was the probiotic least often prescribed (8.6%). The majority of participants reported that probiotics were used to improve digestion and improve GI immunity, but there were no significant differences found between groups (P=0.298). The majority of PRs and PSs correctly reported that probiotics reduce the risk of antibiotic-induced diarrhea (74.9% and 80.2%) respectively, but there were no significant differences among them. Internet (50.0%) was the source of probiotics-related information to all pediatricians.
LIMITATION: There may be some response bias—PPs who have a special interest in probiotics may have been more likely to respond to the survey.
CONCLUSION: Significant differences in knowledge and practice patterns exist regarding probiotics. Identification of knowledge gaps may be useful to develop educational materials to improve proper definition, knowledge, and the use of probiotics.