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Keywords:

  • alternative medicine;
  • attitude;
  • complementary medicine;
  • depression;
  • education;
  • nursing

Aims.  To investigate patients’ attitudes toward complementary and alternative medicine, the education nurses provided about complementary and alternative medicine for treating depression and to test whether such education mediates the effect of complementary and alternative medicine use and attitudes toward complementary and alternative medicine.

Background.  Although we know that attitudes influence behaviour, very few studies simultaneously explore the relationship between attitudes, education and complementary and alternative medicine use.

Design.  Survey.

Methods.  This study was conducted as part of a larger survey, using face-to-face survey interviews with 206 adult patients aged 50 years or over and hospitalised in conventional hospitals in Taiwan for treatment of depression. The attitudes toward complementary and alternative medicine and patient education about complementary and alternative medicine instruments were specially developed for the study.

Results.  Participants expressed slightly favourable attitudes toward complementary and alternative medicine. Many participants (50%) expressed that they were willing to try any potential treatment for depression. They believed that complementary and alternative medicine helped them to feel better and to live a happier life. However, 66·5% of participants reported that they had inadequate knowledge of complementary and alternative medicine. Participants with a higher monthly income, longer depression duration and religious beliefs hold more positive attitudes toward complementary and alternative medicine. Most participants were not satisfied with the education they received about complementary and alternative medicine. Patient education about complementary and alternative medicine was found to be a mediator for the use of complementary and alternative medicine.

Conclusion.  Patient education from nurses may predict patients’ attitudes toward complementary and alternative medicine. Continuing nursing education is needed to enable nurses to respond knowledgeably to concerns patients may have about complementary and alternative medicine and treatment options.

Relevance to clinical practice.  This study highlights the potential role of patient education about complementary and alternative medicine as an effective way of adjusting patients’ attitudes toward complementary and alternative medicine and to link both patients’ preferences for complementary and alternative medicine and health professionals’ concerns about the proper use of complementary and alternative medicine for depression management and adverse drug interactions.