Does nurses’ role, health or symptoms influence their personal use of ingestible complementary and alternative medicines?

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2017, 35 pp. 39 - 46
Issue Date:
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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd Objectives To investigate the influence of work-related characteristics, health, health behaviours and symptoms on ingestible biologically-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) use within the Australian nursing and midwifery workforce. Background CAM use is widespread worldwide, but there is little research into nurses’ and midwives’ personal use of ingestible CAM in Australia. Methods An online survey in 2014–15 used validated instruments and items to examine use of ingestible biologically-based CAM (herbs, foods and vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and other supplements), and the health and work-related characteristics of 5041 nurses and midwives recruited through the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association and professional networks. Results A small proportion of nurses (6.8%) identified as personal CAM users. Most were female, older, worked in foundational roles (frontline Registered and Enrolled Nurses/Midwives) and used one CAM, most commonly a multivitamin, although Vitamin D, Fish Oil, Calcium and Glucosamine ± Chondroitin were also common. In comparison to non-users, CAM users were less likely to take sick days or indulge in risky drinking, but more likely to be symptomatic (with stiff joints, bodily/joint pain, severe tiredness, allergies, indigestion/heartburn), diagnosed with osteoarthritis and to adhere to healthy diet recommendations. Conclusions Findings showed a credible pattern of front line workers with physically demanding workloads that impact their physical health and are linked to frequent symptoms, using CAM treatments and achieving some success in being able to continue working and avoid sickness absence. Further investigation is warranted to protect and maintain the health of the nursing and midwifery workforce.
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