Nurses’ attitudes and behaviour towards patients’ use of complementary therapies: A mixed methods study

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Advanced Nursing, 2018, 74 (7), pp. 1649 - 1658
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© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd Aim: To explore Registered Nurses’ attitudes and behaviour towards patients’ use of complementary therapies. Background: Despite high rates of use of complementary therapies by the general population, little is known of how nurses respond to patients’ use of these therapies. Design: A two-phase sequential exploratory mixed methods design. Methods: Nineteen Registered Nurses working in Australia participated in a semi-structured interview in 2015–2016 and emerging themes informed the development of a quantitative survey instrument administered online nationwide in 2016. Findings: Emerging key themes “Promoting safe care”; “Seeking complementary therapies knowledge”;” Supporting holistic health care”; and “Integrating complementary therapies in practice” were reflected in survey results. Survey responses (N = 614) revealed >90% agreement that complementary therapies align with a holistic view of health and that patients have the right to use them. Most nurses (77.5%) discussed complementary therapies with patients and 91.8% believed nurses should have some understanding of the area. One-third did not recommend complementary therapies and there was a lack of overall consensus as to whether these therapies should be integrated into nursing practice. Nurses with training in complementary therapies held more positive views than those without. Conclusion: Nurses were generally supportive of patients’ interest in complementary therapies, although their primary concern was safety of the patient. Despite broad acceptance that nurses should have a basic understanding of complementary therapies, there was a lack of consensus about recommendation, integration into nursing practice and referral. Further research should explore how nurses can maintain safe, patient-centred care in the evolving pluralistic healthcare system.
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