Pilot study for the understanding and use of probiotics by different paediatric healthcare professionals working in different European countries

Pettoello-Mantovani M., Cokugras F. C. , Vural M., Mestrovic J., Nigri L., Piazzolla R., ...More

ITALIAN JOURNAL OF PEDIATRICS, vol.45, 2019 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 45
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s13052-019-0648-4
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus


BackgroundConsumers' conviction of the benefits of probiotics is influenced by their existing beliefs and by the information they receive from healthcare professionals. The attitude of healthcare professionals towards commercially available probiotics will, therefore, determine how trustworthy and beneficial these products are perceived by consumers. Furthermore, due to European Union legislation, companies are prohibited from displaying information on product packaging; therefore, consumers are dependent primarily on healthcare professionals for correct information and guidance on the use of these products. The aim of this pilot study was to explore the understanding and use of probiotics in clinical practice by professionals who are involved in child healthcare in different European countries and to assess how much they value the scientific evidence behind these products.MethodsThe study was performed using a cross-sectional, descriptive, 30-question online questionnaire circulated among healthcare professionals belonging to three professional categories that are typically involved in childhood probiotic prescription: paediatricians, dieticians and general practitioners. The questionnaire was developed using web-based standard guidelines, and the questions were modelled on those used in previously published probiotics studies.ResultsOverall, 27,287 healthcare professionals belonging to three major European scientific societies were contacted by the organizations participating in the study. In total, 1360 valid questionnaires were recorded, and the results were statistically analysed.ConclusionsThe results emphasize the importance for healthcare professionals to be properly educated and updated on probiotics. An improved knowledge about probiotics led to increased prescriptive confidence. To disseminate accurate information on probiotics, healthcare professionals look for appropriate and scientifically validated educational platforms to acquire information, explore concerns and barriers and look for positive approaches towards recommending probiotics.