Complementary and Alternattve Medicine: Knowledge, Beliefs, and Practices of Oncology Nurses

Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Science



Department or Program Chair

Barbara Ganley, PhD

Thesis Advisor

Luanne Linnard-Palmer, EdD, RN


Objective: To investigate the knowledge, beliefs, practice of oncology nurses regarding complementary and alternative modalities (CAM). To assess how cancer nurses perceive the usefulness of complementary modalities by patients diagnosed with cancer. To explore the oncology nurses’ perception of the barriers of integration of CAM.

Methods: A descriptive, non-experimental quantitative research design was utilized. An anonymous questionnaire was mailed to a randomized sample of 200 oncology nurses, members of Oncology Nursing Society, who live and practice in the state of California. Data analysis was done with the use of statistics software, SPSS Graduate Pack, Version 12.0 for Windows.

Results: A total of 69 (35%) completed questionnaires were collected and analyzed. About one third of the nurses (n=22, 34%) reported no knowledge about CAM as a part of the California Nurse Practice Act. Overall, the respondents described themselves as knowledgeable on top four CAM modalities and believed these therapies help cancer patients. The top four identified therapies were: guided imagery (n=32, 46%), prayer/meditation (n=34, 49%), breathing exercises (n—31, 45%), and massage (n—30, 44%). However, the nurses reported no knowledge about Qi Gong (»=56, 81%), reflexology (n—29, 42%), homeopathy (n—25, 36%) and aromatherapy (n—17, 25 /o). The participants reported ambivalence regarding the effects of herbal therapy, acupuncture oi chiropractic treatments. Thematic analysis of the nurses perception of the barriers to integration of CAM resulted in five categories including professional, product/service, environmental, cultural and financial barriers.

Conclusion: The result of this investigation suggests that health providers especially nurses need to increase their knowledge regarding CAM. Further research is warranted to expand the investigation to include broader and more divers sample population and to support these findings.

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