Nurses' perceptions of the use of complementary and alternative medicine for pain management
Esper, Sunshine Meralee
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Use of complementary and alternative medical therapies (CAM) by adults for pain management is common practice. More hospitals and clinics are incorporating CAM into treatment plans. Nurses are key team members in planning and implementing care. Perceptions can influence care that is given. It is important to understand nurses' perceptions CAM use for pain management, their comfort level for recommending and initiating CAM therapies, and educational needs regarding CAM. Some studies have been conducted regarding nurses' perceptions of CAM, but not particularly CAM used for pain management. A descriptive qualitative approach was employed using a convenience, cross-sectional sample of 10 nurses who work at a northwest Montana medical center. Data were collected during semi-structured interviews. Imogene King's Theory of Goal Attainment provided a theoretical framework for the study. Results indicated nurses were optimistic about CAM and supported incorporating CAM into patients' pain management treatment plans. Nurses were generally comfortable recommending some kinds of CAM, but some desired the direction of a physician for certain types of CAM. Nurses seemed unsure of their role and responsibility regarding incorporating CAM into treatment plans. Themes that emerged were that nurses thought CAM could be useful for decreasing or even eliminating narcotic use, nurses felt there was a lack of resources and guidance regarding recommending CAM therapies to patients, and although they thought they had a good understanding about CAM, they would like more education about CAM. There are several implications for future research. Including; replicating the study in other geographic areas, exploring how increased education and available resources impact nurses comfort levels about discussing and incorporating CAM, understanding the relationship between CAM and narcotic use, and more research focusing on physicians' perceptions of CAM use for pain management. This research impacts the advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) practice in many ways. The expanded role of the APRN requires a focus on education and advocacy. The APRN could conduct professional educational offerings for medical professionals. Patients and nurses will look to the APRN for guidance. It is important for the APRN to be knowledgeable about CAM use and CAM resources.