Nurse practitioner knowledge, use, and referral of complementary/alternative therapies

Carol Geisler, Corjena Cheung, Stasia Johnson Steinhagen, Peggy Neubeck, Alvina D. Brueggeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose: The study aims are to (a) describe nurse practitioners' (NPs') belief in effectiveness, knowledge, referral, and use of complementary/alternative therapies (C/ATs), (b) explore the initiation of C/AT dialogue between NPs and their patients, and (c) examine the relationships between demographic variables and NP C/AT knowledge, beliefs, use, referrals. Data sources: A mixed-method cross-sectional online survey of licensed NPs (N = 2874) from a Midwestern state was analyzed using descriptive statistics, thematic analysis, and content analysis. Conclusions: NPs (n = 410) report the most knowledge about prayer (40%) and mind-body practices (32%). Many NPs (84%) report using vitamins for personal use and 85% refer their patients for massage/bodywork. Most (95%) believe NPs should have knowledge of the most common C/AT and 81% believe C/AT have a legitimate use in allopathic medicine. NPs' knowledge, belief, use, and referral of C/AT are significantly correlated. NPs initiate C/AT dialogue with their patients 54% of the time. Factors that impact the NP and patient C/AT dialogue include patient/family openness, nature of the health problem, NP C/AT knowledge, time, and accessibility. Implications for practice: Centralized C/AT sources could help expedite C/AT referrals. Implementing workplace C/AT clinics could help build knowledge, referral, personal use, and acceptance of C/AT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-388
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 American Association of Nurse Practitioners.


  • Beliefs
  • Communication
  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
  • Descriptive research
  • Healthcare collaboration
  • Holistic
  • Nurse practitioners


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