Knowledge levels and attitudes of staff nurses in Israel towards complementary and alternative medicine

F G DeKeyser, B Bar Cohen, N Wagner
Journal of Advanced Nursing 2001, 36 (1): 41-8

AIMS: The purpose of this study was to determine the knowledge level and attitudes of Israeli nurses towards complementary and alternative medicine and what factors are related to these variables.

BACKGROUND: Over recent years there has been increased interest among the lay public and health care professionals in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Previous studies have shown that several variables such as education, income, age, perceived health status and satisfaction with medical therapy are associated with use of CAM. Conflicting reports were found with respect to the relationship between health locus of control and the use of CAM. Israel is a small country comprised mostly of immigrants from vastly differing cultures with differing beliefs about health and health care. Nurses whose origins are similar to the general population are also caregivers who are used to integrating diverse therapies into the plan of care devised with the client. No study was found which investigated these issues among Israeli nurses.

DESIGN/METHODS: A systematic random sample of 369 staff nurses working at a major academic medical centre in Jerusalem, Israel were invited to participate in the study. Informed consent was obtained. Four self-administered, pencil and paper, questionnaires were distributed to the study participants: a questionnaire designed by the authors to determine the level of knowledge and attitudes towards complementary and alternative medicine; a questionnaire which measured satisfaction with the patient-physician relationship; a questionnaire which measured health locus of control; and a demographic questionnaire. Participants received a packet containing the questionnaire and a note explaining the study. The anonymous questionnaires were collected by the ward secretaries and sent in bulk to the researchers.

RESULTS: Results demonstrated that nurses in this sample perceived that they had little knowledge of complementary and alternative medicine but were very interested in learning more. Few used complementary and alternative medicine in their nursing practice but levels of personal use were similar to that of the general population. Nurses who used complementary and alternative medicine were satisfied with their care.

CONCLUSIONS: In general, nurses tended to be wary of the use of complementary and alternative medicine. Nurses were also not satisfied with their relationships with their physicians. Those of middle age were more likely to use complementary and alternative medicine but no other demographic characteristics were associated with knowledge or attitudes towards complementary and alternative medicine. Nurses had higher levels of internal health locus of control which was associated with more positive attitudes and knowledge levels of complementary and alternative medicine.

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