A cross-sectional study on Swedish licensed nurses' use, practice, perception and knowledge about complementary and alternative medicine

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No data exist on the percentage of licensed nurses in Sweden who practise a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).


To investigate the use, practice, perception and knowledge of CAM among a representative sample of licensed nurses in Sweden.


A cross-sectional descriptive anonymous survey on CAM-related issues was distributed between April and June 2012 to 1200 licensed nurses who were member of the Swedish Association of Health Professionals (Vårdförbundet).


A total of 335 nurses (28%) responded to the survey of which 83% reported to have used at least one CAM method for self-care. Massage (59.7%), dietary supplements (51.3%) and mind–body therapies (24.8%) were most frequently used. CAM practice was reported by 11 and 43% of the nurses wished to practise a CAM method in the future. Main barriers for practise of CAM were lack of knowledge, lack of scientific evidence and little knowledge on legislative issues concerning CAM. A high proportion (73%) of nurses never or seldom asked patients about CAM use although 59.1% opined that health-care personnel should inform clients about CAM when they ask for it. Having knowledge about CAM was found to be significantly (p < 0.05) associated with a higher odds of respondents to ask their patients about CAM use (OR 3.3; CI 1.4–7.6). Similar findings on CAM use, knowledge and perception were observed in a confirmatory analysis among an additional convenience sample of 625 nurses in Sweden.


Licensed nurses in Sweden seemed to have an overall positive attitude towards CAM. Although CAM practice was low, a substantial number wished to practise a CAM method in the future. Main barrier for CAM practise and communication was lack of knowledge and evidence, emphasizing the need for structural education, information and research on CAM in Sweden.

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