Knowledge, attitudes, and use of complementary and alternative therapies among clinical nurse specialists in an academic medical center

Clin Nurse Spec. 2010 May-Jun;24(3):125-31. doi: 10.1097/NUR.0b013e3181d86cd1.


Background: There has been an increase in the use and awareness of complementary and integrative therapies in the United States over the last 10 years. Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are in an ideal place to influence this paradigm shift in medicine to provide holistic care.

Purpose: This study was designed to describe the knowledge, attitudes, and use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by CNSs in a large Midwest medical center.

Design: This study used a descriptive exploratory correlational design.

Sample/setting: Seventy-six CNSs who work in various inpatient and outpatient units within this medical facility were surveyed electronically, in the fall of 2008, using a 26-item questionnaire developed by the research team.

Method: Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Findings: The results demonstrate that CNSs at this academic medical center use several CAM therapies for their personal use and for professional practice with patients. The top therapies that CNSs personally used were humor, massage, spirituality/prayer, music therapy, and relaxed breathing. The top therapies requested most by patients were massage, spirituality/prayer, healing touch, acupuncture, and music therapy. The results indicated that most CNSs thought CAM therapies were beneficial and that there was some evidence for use of these therapies for use by patients or by CNSs.

Implications: The results of this study will help to determine educational needs and clinical practice of CAM therapies with CNSs at this academic medical center. The survey used and the research results from this study can be a template for other CNSs to use to begin to address this topic of CAM use in other hospitals and clinical settings. This survey could be used to explore CAM use by patients in specialty areas for practice enhancement.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Advanced Practice Nursing / education
  • Advanced Practice Nursing / organization & administration
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Clinical Competence
  • Complementary Therapies* / education
  • Complementary Therapies* / psychology
  • Complementary Therapies* / statistics & numerical data
  • Educational Measurement
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Holistic Nursing / education
  • Holistic Nursing / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Midwestern United States / epidemiology
  • Needs Assessment
  • Nurse Clinicians* / education
  • Nurse Clinicians* / organization & administration
  • Nurse Clinicians* / psychology
  • Nurse's Role / psychology
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Practice Patterns, Nurses' / organization & administration*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Care* / methods
  • Self Care* / psychology
  • Self Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Self Efficacy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires