Registered Nurses’ communication about patients’ use of complementary therapies: A national survey

Helen Hall, Matthew J. Leach, Caragh Brosnan, Robyn Cant, Melissa Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To identify communication patterns of Registered Nurses regarding patients’ use of complementary therapies. Methods: A cross-sectional online survey conducted in 2017 recruited Australian Registered Nurses working in any area of nursing. Results: Responses of 614 Registered Nurses were analysed. Patient-initiated discussion of complementary therapies were common for 77% of nurses; nurse-initiated discussions were perceived by 73% (sometimes/almost always/always). Nurses’ personal use of complementary therapies predicted discussion with patients and education-based, oncology, or aged care/rehabilitation nurses were most likely to initiate dialogue. Many (55%) did not ‘recommend’ a particular therapy, although 12% ‘almost always/always’ did so. Four out of five nurses (84%) documented patients’ use and communicated with medical/nursing colleagues about this use. Conversely, 61% ‘never’ or ‘almost never’ communicated with a complementary therapy practitioner. Conclusion: Nurses working in Australia often discuss complementary therapies, however they rarely specifically recommend their use. Their workplace environment and clinical context influenced nurses’ willingness to communicate about complementary therapy use. Practice implications evidence: suggests the need for policy development to promote communication between mainstream healthcare providers and complementary therapy practitioners to support the delivery of safe, high quality patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1403-1409
Number of pages7
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • Communication
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Complementary medicine
  • Complementary therapies
  • Nursing
  • Quantitative survey

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