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Nurses' perspectives on unconventional therapies

Fitch, Margaret I. R.N., Ph.D.; Gray, Ross E. Ph.D.; Greenberg, Marlene M.S.; Labrecque, Manon M.P.s.; Douglas, Mary Sue R.N.

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Unconventional therapies have become increasingly popular with health care consumers in recent years. As patients seek information and attempt to make decisions about unconventional therapies, they often turn to nurses, asking the nurse's opinion about certain therapies. The nurse's attitudes and beliefs about unconventional therapies quite likely will influence the response to the patient's inquiries.

This article represents the findings of interviews with 20 nurses regarding their perspectives on unconventional therapies. Without exception, all nurses who were interviewed emphasized that information regarding unconventional therapies needs to be available readily for both patients and health care professionals. Other themes identified in the interviews included the following: Various people use unconventional therapies; people seek unconventional therapies for a variety of reasons; communication about unconventional therapies needs to be open, and a place should be found for unconventional therapies. The interviewees saw a clearly defined role for nurses regarding unconventional therapies.

Margaret I. Fitch is Head, Oncology Nursing and Supportive Care, Toronto-Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Ross E. Gray is Clinical Psychologist, Toronto-Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Marlene Greenberg is Manager, Health Promotion, Toronto-Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Manon Labrecque is Research Assistant, Toronto-Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Mary Sue Douglas is a cancer survivor.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Margaret I. Fitch, Toronto-Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M4N 3M5.

Accepted for publication July 16, 1998.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.