Original Research

A qualitative study of pharmacists’ perceptions and awareness of homoeopathic medicines in Durban, South Africa

Nokuthula H. Mavela, Ingrid M.S. Couchman, Themba Mgwaba, Celenkosini T. Nxumalo
South African Family Practice | Vol 65, No 1 : Part 4| a5698 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v65i1.5698 | © 2023 Nokuthula Hloniphani Mavela, Ingrid Marceline Stephanie Couchman, Themba Mgwaba, Celenkosini Thembelenkosini Nxumalo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 December 2022 | Published: 26 December 2023

About the author(s)

Nokuthula H. Mavela, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa
Ingrid M.S. Couchman, Department of Homoeopathy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa
Themba Mgwaba, School of Built Environment and Developmental Studies, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Celenkosini T. Nxumalo, Academic Development Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, Durban University of Technology, Durban; and Discipline of Nursing, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background: There is growing interest in the demand for and use of homoeopathic medicines by the public; however, little is known about the perspectives of pharmacists regarding the use of these medicines, particularly in the South African private health context.

Methods: A qualitative approach using an exploratory cross-sectional descriptive design was used. Data were collected from a purposive sample of 15 participants comprising pharmacy managers, pharmacists and pharmacy assistants from six different conveniently selected private pharmacy retail outlets. Data were collected using individual interviews utilising a semi-structured interview guide. An audiotape was used to record the data which were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically, following Tech’s steps of data analysis. Ethical approval to conduct the study was obtained from the Durban University of Technology’s Institutional Research Ethics Committee.

Results: The findings of this study revealed four superordinate themes related to pharmacists’ perceptions and self-reported awareness regarding homoeopathic medicines. These are (1) negative perceptions regarding homoeopathic medicines, (2) perceived benefits of homoeopathic medicines, (3) poor knowledge and awareness of homoeopathic medicines and (4) capacity development and curriculum aspects.

Conclusion: The findings highlight the need for an educational intervention on homoeopathic medicines targeting pre-service and in-service pharmacy practitioners, to enable them to provide effective education regarding all types of medicines as the demand for homoeopathic medicines increases.

Contribution: The study findings provide evidence to support advocacy for an educational intervention to improve awareness and knowledge of pharmacists to enable provision of effective health education for patients. More research, however, is required to inform the contents of this training intervention for pharmacists.


alternative medicines; complementary medicines; homoeopathic medicines; pharmacists; complementary and alternative medicines; perceptions; self-reported awareness


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