Trends and patterns of use of CAM (Complementary and alternative medicine) among senior nursing students

Schutz, Pamela Lorne
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The use and teaching of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) therapies is a growing trend worldwide in the pursuit of health and the amelioration of some disease problems. Chronic, insoluble problems, stress (both mental and physiological), and pain are particularly the target of these therapies. In February 2001, South Africa became a world leader when she passed legislation promoting ten traditional or complementary and alternative therapies into professionalism. The purpose of this study was to assess the trends and patterns of use of senior nursing students of CAM therapies, and their intention to use such CAM therapies on their patients, or to refer their patients to practitioners of CAM therapies. A self-report survey was used to obtain this data, partly constructed from knowledge gathered in the literature review. Senior nursing students from three teaching institutions in Johannesburg participated in the survey. A pilot study to test the feasibility of the study and the reliability of the instrument was carried out at one of these three institutions. The group that participated in the pilot was not the same group that was later used as subjects at this institution. The pilot test was then subjected to a Peason's Product-Moment Correlation test to assess testretest reliability. Pearson's r was found to be 0.8, which shows high reliability of the instrument. Descriptive statistics (frequencies, means, and proportions) were used to summarize and present the results. The main results are as follows. A much larger group of respondents saw allopathic practitioners than CAM practitioners for their personal health problems and to maintain their health. Knowledge of CAM therapies was reported to be fairly low, though this may be due to the number of therapies presented for consideration. A large percentage of the respondents was interested in learning about, and even practicing CAM therapies on their patients, and in referring their patients to CAM practitioners or being able to advise them about CAM therapies and remedies appropriately. Given these results, with regard to nursing education, it was suggested that at least an introductory course to the basic tenets of CAM therapies and "holistic" or "body-mind medicine", needs to be presented to all student nurses. The problems inherent in developing adequate and relevant research avenues for these complex subjects, and an understanding of a range of the most commonly practiced CAM therapies needs to be included at neophyte nursing level. Focussed suggestions are made in the body of the report. Focussed suggestions are also made with regard to future research, both within the field of nursing and related allopathic disciplines possibly interested in incorporating aspects of CAM therapies within their own bodies of knowledge, and outside these disciplines. Suggestions relevant to the teaching and practice of a few CAM therapies practiced by the researcher, and of pharmacological and other possible avenues of research relevant to some of these therapies, will be made in the form of further articles submitted to the professional magazines of the CAM therapies concerned.
Student Number : 8229351 - MSc (Nursing) research report - Faculty of Health Sciences
CAM therapies , complementary and alternative medicine , disease , South Africa , trends and patterns , senior nursing students