Perception of Conventional Medicine and Herbal Medicine Usage Amongst Diabetic Patients: A Qualitative Study in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia

  •  Norbaidurah Ithnain    
  •  Albeny Joslyn Panting    
  •  Rosnani Kassim    
  •  Nadia Amirudin    
  •  Manimaran Krishnan    


INTRODUCTION: The concomitant intake of herbal medicine and conventional medicine amongst patients is steadily increasing worldwide. However, concerns have been raised regarding potential adverse effects and drug interactions when consuming both medications together. Therefore, this work aimed to comprehending the perception of Type 2 Diabetic Mellitus (T2DM) patients on conventional medicine and the manner of its use with herbal medicine in managing diabetes mellitus.

METHODS: A qualitative study was conducted among 28 diabetic patients in four government clinics under the jurisdiction of the state of Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. Purposive sampling was employed to recruit informants who consumed herbal medicine alongside their prescribed conventional medicine. This study employed semi-structured interviews, which were all digitally recorded, transcribed, and analysed thematically.

RESULTS: This study found that most of the patients perceived the negative side effects of conventional medicine, which led them to consider incorporating herbal medicine in treating diabetes. Such perception was influenced by the personal experiences of their family members and friends. A majority of the informants utilised herbal medicine as a complementary consumption to conventional medicine as opposed to implementing it as an alternative. However, they would alter the dosage and intake time of conventional medicine for several reasons, such as to complement their herbal medicine intake, being fed-up with conventional medicine, and reduce the risk of its side effects. Lastly, this study revealed that some of the patients noted their intention to discontinue conventional medicine, while some even tried to quit.

CONCLUSIONS: A complete understanding of patient’s perceptions regarding conventional medicine and its usage with herbal medicine will aid healthcare providers to deliver education on the importance of conventional medicine usage compliance. Additionally, people should be aware that its combination with herbal medicine when consumed may present adverse effects and subsequently cause serious health problems.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.