Nurse attitudes towards the use of complementary and alternative therapies in critical care

Mary Fran Tracy, Ruth A Lindquist, Shigeaki Watanuki, Sue Sendelbach, MaryJo Kreitzer, Brian Berman, Kay Savik

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: There is increasing demand for complementary/alternative therapies (CAT) in critical care, however, critical care nurses' perspectives regarding CAT are unknown. OBJECTIVES: This study was conducted to determine critical care nurses' knowledge, attitudes, and use of CAT. SAMPLE/SETTING: A total of 348 critical care registered nurses working at least 40% in medical, surgical, cardiac, neurological, and pediatric ICUs at 2 tertiary-level hospitals in a large Midwestern city were surveyed. One hospital is a 926-bed private, urban hospital and the second is an 1868-bed academic-affiliated medical center. METHODS: A survey was distributed to all critical care nurses described above. RESULTS: The level of knowledge reported by 138 nurse respondents was greatest for diet, exercise, massage, prayer, and music therapy. Use of therapies was related to knowledge and training and consistent with beliefs of legitimacy and perceptions of beneficial effects. Despite barriers including lack of knowledge, time, and training, 88% of respondents were open or eager to use CAT, and 60% reported moderate or greater desire to use CAT. CONCLUSIONS: Critical care nurses are open to CAT use and many use them in their own practice. Because use was associated with knowledge, recommendations for future research include increasing the scientific base and enhancing knowledge to promote evidence-based incorporation of CAT in practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-209
Number of pages13
JournalHeart and Lung: Journal of Acute and Critical Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003

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