CAM nurses

If there was a league table of the worst global chronic cases of politicians taking advantage of a group of people's good nature, the long suffering nurses would be at the top. Uncomplainingly (mostly) they deal with the messy ends of illness, the heart breaking situations, the dreadful shifts and often have to compensate for the odd Dr (or Doctora) House with an appalling bedside manner -  all for a wage that would barely keep Mother Teresa in veils.  Perhaps it is this caring nature that is also driving them to find different new solutions to improve patient care.  There has been a large increase of papers published on the integration of complementary alternative medicine in areas as diverse as childbirth, dementia, oncology and mental health in the past few years.  Nurses are often the people that patients turn to for more information on CAM.

Here we report on three new publications that appeared in the medical literature this month.

A new study published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing investigated the attitudes and use of CAM by nurses in an Israeli hospital.  The nurses were told that they could remain anonymous and agreed to complete a detailed questionnaire on their understanding and belief in a Holistic treatment plan as well as their use and recommendations for Complementary Alternative Medicine. Results showed that nurses have a positive attitude to holistic care and 70% of the participants either used or recommended complementary alternative medicine.  The research group concludes that nurses should be given more training and education on the use of CAM and participate in research into the patient benefits of CAM.

A German research group recently carried out an internet study on the use of complementary alternative medicine in cancer treatments by health professionals working in palliative care. Over 690 health professionals participated, 49 per cent doctors, thirty five per cent nurses and 3 per cent psychologists.   A massive 95 % of the participants had been asked about complementary alternative medicine by their patients and 89% had been asked about CAM information by a family member of a patient. 74% of the health professionals would use complementary medicine in a patient with an advanced tumour and even amongst the sceptical 45% would treat patients with CAM.  However only 21% of the participating professionals thought that they had enough knowledge about CAM.  The group rightly concludes that education on CAM should be part of the palliative care curriculum.

A group in the UK has carried out a study to assess the value of collaboration between student nurses, midwives and complementary alternative medicine practitioners. In the study final year students from adult nursing, midwifery and CAM degree courses participated in joint workshop and discussion groups.  The study covered topics such as interaction, breaking down of prejudices and understanding common aims and organisational limitations.   The study group concludes that as patient-centred care is everyone's aim, there are clear benefits to a more integrated health system.

God bless the nurses!

Orkaby et al. Israeli nurses' attitudes to the holistic approach to health and their use of complementary and alternative therapies. J Holistic Nurs Jul 2014.

Conrad et al. Attitudes of members of the German Society for palliative Medicine toward complementary and alternative medicine for cancer patients. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. Jul 2014.

 Netherwood et al. Inter-professional education: merging nursing, midwifery and CAM. Br J Nurs. Jul 2014.



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