The Attitudes of Physicians, Nurses, Physical Therapists, and Midwives Toward Complementary Medicine for Chronic Pain: A Survey at an Academic Hospital

Explore (NY). 2016 Sep-Oct;12(5):341-6. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2016.06.001. Epub 2016 Jun 21.


Objective: To assess the attitudes of physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and midwives toward complementary medicine (CM) at a Swiss academic hospital and toward its use for treating chronic pain.

Design: The cross-sectional survey took place from October to December 2013.

Setting: An e-mail sent to 4925 healthcare professionals (1969 physicians, 2372 nurses, 145 physical therapists, and 111 midwives) working at Lausanne University Hospital, Switzerland, invited them to answer a web-based questionnaire.

Results: The questionnaire was answered by 1247 healthcare professionals (response rate: 25.3%). Of these, 96.1% strongly agreed or agreed that CM could be useful for the treatment of chronic pain, with more nurses (96.7%) and midwives (100%) than physicians (93.8%) agreeing that CM could be useful (P < .001 for both comparisons). Women had more positive attitude toward CM than men (97.8% versus 91.2%; P < .001). Of the respondents, 96.9% were strongly in favor or in favor of offering CM, especially hypnosis (89.8%), osteopathy (85.5%), and acupuncture (83.4%), at the hospital for treating chronic pain. Respondents listed migraine (74.7%), tension headaches (70.6%), and low back pain (70.1%) as three main conditions for which they would refer patients for acupuncture. The three therapies with which respondents were the most unfamiliar were neuraltherapy (57.2%), mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) (54.1%), and biofeedback (51.9%). Over half of respondents, 58.3%, had never referred a patient to a CM practitioner. A total of 84.3% of the respondents felt that they lacked the knowledge to inform their patients about CM.

Keywords: Complementary therapies; attitude of health personnel; chronic pain; health knowledge; practice.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Female
  • Headache
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis
  • Low Back Pain
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse Midwives
  • Nurses*
  • Osteopathic Medicine
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Physical Therapists*
  • Physicians*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Switzerland
  • Universities