Perceptions and attitudes of New Zealand Plunket nurses toward the use of complementary and alternative medicine in children
Lo, Stephanie Lai Ha
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Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/2365
BACKGROUND: Studies suggest that the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is high in New Zealand children. Plunket nurses are primary child health care providers who play a significant role in assisting parents in making informed decisions. Their perceptions and attitudes toward CAM are important as they can influence their clinical approach to health issues. This study examines New Zealand Plunket nurses’ perceptions and attitudes toward CAM use in child health and explores factors that might affect the nurses’ clinical practice related to CAM issues. METHOD: This is a qualitative study using focus group method to collect data. A total of five Plunket nurses participated in the study. Data were analyzed using an interpretative description framework. FINDINGS: Four key themes emerged from the data. They were “organisational policy constraints”, “ambivalence about being an organisation employee and independent health professional”, “fear of liability” and “desire for knowledge and resources”. The findings aid understanding of New Zealand Plunket nurses’ perceptions and clinical responses toward CAM practices. CONCLUSIONS: Participants have ambiguous feelings toward the organisational policy of not endorsing or recommending any type of CAM in response to CAM enquiries. While feeling restricted by the policy, participants were concerned about the confusion among staff and the possible liability in engaging with CAM issues if the existing policy was not in place. All participants reported a desire to have more updated knowledge and in-service education about CAM to assist parents and caregivers in their choices of CAM care. This study highlights the need for further research to explore the current status of CAM use in New Zealand children and the strategies needed for the health care policy makers to respond appropriately.