Complementary Medicine and the Role of Oncology Nurses in an Acute Care Hospital: The Gap Between Attitudes and Practice

Hanna Admi, PhD, RN; Yael Eilon-Moshe, PhD, RN; Eran Ben-Arye, MD


Purpose/Objectives: To describe hospital nurses’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding complementary medicine (CM); to compare the knowledge and attitudes of nurse managers to staff nurses with diverse oncology experience; and to assess attitudes toward integrating CM into the role of the hospital oncology nurse. 

Design: Descriptive, cross-sectional study.

Setting: Rambam Health Care Campus in northern Israel.

Sample: A convenience sample of 434 hospital nurses with varied oncology experience.

Methods: Nurses completed a knowledge and attitude questionnaire developed for the current study. Data were analyzed using parametric and nonparametric statistical tests. 

Main Research Variables: Hospital nurses’ knowledge of and attitudes toward CM, and attitudes toward integrating CM into the role of the hospital oncology nurse.

Findings: Nurses lack knowledge and are unaware of the risks associated with CM. However, they believe this approach can improve the quality of life of patients with cancer; 51% expressed an interest in receiving training. Oncology nurses were ambivalent about the feasibility of applying an integrative approach, whereas nurse managers expressed significantly more positive attitudes toward integrating CM within the scope of nursing practices.

Conclusions: A large discrepancy remains between nurses’ strong interest in CM and awareness of associated benefits, and their ambivalence toward its integration in their nursing practice. 

Implications for Nursing: Although improving nurses’ knowledge should be mandatory, it remains insufficient; a shift in the approach to integrating CM into conventional health care is needed, from practitioners’ responsibility to healthcare policymakers’ responsibility. Legislation and policies are necessary, along with providing respectable infrastructures.

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