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October 2021

Scand J Caring Sci. 1998 ; 12(2): 119-26.

Nurses' attitudes to the use of alternative medicine in cancer patients.

Damkier A, Elverdam B, Glasdam S, Jensen AB, Rose C.

Oncological Research Centre, Odense, Denmark.

This study reports results from a questionnaire study on nurses' attitudes to and experiences with alternative medicine, especially related to cancer patients' use of alternative medicine. Sixty nurses from a department of oncology and haematology participated in the study. The response rate was 62%. The nurses primarily perceived the use of alternative medicine as an individual choice which the nurses wanted to support. Sixty-three percent of the nurses indicated that alternative medicine could be useful in the treatment of cancer patients, 32% would sometimes suggest alternative medicine to the patients, and 20% used alternative medicine in their nursing. One-third of the nurses had experienced conflict in connection with alternative medicine and their patients, mostly when established treatment was delayed or refused in favour of alternative medicine. Fifty-three percent of the nurses had tried alternative medicine themselves. This study reveals that nurses are in an ambiguous and complex situation: they are simultaneously professionals in the established health care system, caregivers supporting the patients, and individuals using alternative medicine.


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