Nostalgic and nostophobic referencing and the authentication of nurses' use of complementary therapies

Soc Sci Med. 2003 Apr;56(7):1469-80. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(02)00143-0.


In recent years what can loosely be described as a sociology of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has begun to emerge. Although work has been conducted with lay therapists, orthodox practitioners, and consumers, overall, research in this area remains patchy and underdeveloped. Despite its role at the forefront of integration, the sociological study of the apparent affinity between nursing and CAM is virtually non-existent. This paper provides an exploratory analysis of how writers within the CAM nursing sub-world adopt a recourse to history (nostalgic and nostophobic referencing) as a strategy to authenticate the relationship between nursing and CAM and so facilitate continuing integration. A text analysis, of articles written on CAM in four nursing journals, was conducted. Eighty papers satisfied the inclusion criteria. Evidence is presented of the way in which writers attempt to authenticate integration of CAM through reference to its apparent interconnectedness with the historically grounded core of nursing values, and more specifically, with the key historical figure of the nurse Florence Nightingale (1820-1910). It is argued that these rhetorical strategies can be understood in the context of the need to engage in (primarily) intra-professional persuasion: to protect and develop the values of their nursing sub-world over alternatives. The findings are preliminary. Themes identified are illustrative of the potential offered by an analysis of nostalgic and nostophobic referencing in this context, and not a definitive account of it. Further research should examine individually produced texts from other sources, and documents produced by relevant professional bodies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Complementary Therapies / nursing*
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated
  • Humans
  • Nursing Evaluation Research*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Periodicals as Topic
  • Primary Nursing / trends*
  • Publishing
  • Sociology*
  • Sociometric Techniques
  • United Kingdom