Barriers to Communication About Complementary and Alternative Medicine With Patients: A Qualitative Study

  •  Hsiao-Yun Chang    
  •  Tzu-Fang Su    
  •  Robert McCreary Mannino    


BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study is to explore the reasons for nurses’ reluctance to communicate with patients regarding the use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) and to determine ways of improving this communication.

METHODS: A qualitative study using focus group interviews was conducted with 54 nurses participated in eight focus groups. Interview data were transcribed verbatim using framework analysis. Ethical approval was obtained from the Research Ethics Board.

RESULTS: The themes were related to the reasons for nurses’ reluctance to communicate with patients were: (1) “the scope of nursing practice regarding CAM is unclear”, (2) “lack of CAM competencies in communication”, and (3) “unsupportive workplace culture in the communication of CAM”. The strategies for improving the communication were: (1) “awareness of the needs for CAM education”, (2) “engagement of interdisciplinary teamwork for CAM practice”, and (3) “establishment of an organizational standard for CAM practice”.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provided new insights into the barriers to communication regarding CAM use with patients from the nurses’ perspectives, and helped identify the ways of improving this communication to advance the practice of nursing.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.