A description of the use of alternative therapies by selected nurse practitioner groups

Jimmie H McCraw, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


The purpose of this study was to determine the expertise in and the extent of Nurse Practitioner (NP) utilization of 28 identified alternative therapies in providing patient care. Using a written questionnaire, a national sample of 500 randomly selected adult, family, and geriatric NP's from the membership of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners were asked to rank their frequency of utilization of 28 identified alternative therapies; Results of the study (response rate 52 percent, n=260) indicated that alternative therapies are being utilized by selected NP groups when providing patient care. The six most frequently prescribed or recommended alternative therapies were exercise, behavior modification, relaxation therapy, lifestyle diets, self-help groups, and massage. Additionally, at least one third of NPs surveyed prescribed or recommended imagery-visualization, prayer, meditation, commercial weight loss programs, and chiropractic "sometimes" or more frequently. Ninety percent of the NPs surveyed would like to learn more about alternative therapies; 85 percent believe that NP programs should include alternative therapies as part of the curriculum; Additional studies of other NP populations would be valuable. In the current health care climate with issues of cost containment and patient outcomes at the forefront, further research should focus on relationships between use of alternative therapies and issues of patient satisfaction, compliance, and outcomes, especially in comparison with use of more conventional modalities.