Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Oncology Nurses' Experiences, Educational Interests, and Resources

M. Teresa Rojas-Cooley

Marcia Grant

ONF 2006, 33(3), 581-588. DOI: 10.1188/06.ONF.581-588

Purpose/Objectives: To describe oncology nurses' experiences with patients communicating interest in or use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies along with oncology nurses' CAM resources and educational interests.

Design: National mailed survey.

Setting: A national medical center and research institute.

Sample: A random sample of 850 Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) members who are RNs involved in direct patient care.

Methods: Respondents completed a demographic questionnaire and the Nurse Complementary and Alternative Medicine Knowledge and Attitude Survey. Initial analysis compared the demographics of the sample to the ONS membership. Descriptive analysis was used to further describe nurses' experiences with patients communicating interest in or use of CAM, nurses' interest in CAM education, and nurses' use of CAM resources.

Main Research Variables: Experiences, resources, interests, and CAM therapies.

Findings: Oncology nurses reported their experiences with patients who communicated interest in or use of CAM therapies. Respondents demonstrated considerable interest in learning more about specific CAM therapies and used a variety of resources to find information on CAM therapies.

Conclusions: Assessing oncology nurses' experiences, resources used, and interest in learning about CAM therapies is the first step in determining the learning needs of oncology nurses in the direct patient care environment. The next step is to obtain baseline information on oncology nurses' CAM knowledge and attitudes for developing and providing appropriate education. CAM education will provide nurses with knowledge to support and advocate for their patients.

Implications for Nursing: Oncology nurses are the bridge to help patients safely integrate evidence-based CAM therapies into conventional treatment.

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