Patients become increasingly informed about various medical practices nowadays and many of them prefer non-traditional treatment options due to personal attitudes and cultural beliefs. Considering this trend, healthcare practitioners should have extensive knowledge of complementary and alternative medicine in order to educate patients about potential risks, such as side effects and adverse drug interactions. However, besides promoting improved health outcomes, the ability of a nurse to educate patients on alternative treatment options may be associated with a stronger and more trustful practitioner-patient relationship. As stated by Park (2002), communication about different interventions allows a healthcare provider to understand patient interests and values better while also allowing a patient to ask questions and increase health literacy. Therefore, every nurse should be able to engage in conversation about non-traditional medical practices even if they like conventional methods better.
In addition, the problem of helping health consumers to find reliable information is very important because, when relying on untrustworthy sources in decision-making, a patient puts his or her health at significant risk. Therefore, nurses should be educated about various interventions aimed to assist consumers in finding credible information. According to Lee, Hoti, Hughes, and Emmerton (2014), some methods include the development of awareness of existing credible websites, improvement of the ability to judge the trustworthiness of sources, and even participation in videoconferences with a telehealth nurse during the implementation of individualized care plans. It is clear that nurses are rarely provided with a chance to control patients’ use of information outside clinical settings. However, when practitioners themselves have well-developed skills in locating high-quality sources and evaluating their credibility, as well as knowledge about various effective educational interventions, they become more capable of selecting approaches that would suit their professional situations and patients’ needs best.
Lee, K., Hoti, K., Hughes, J. D., & Emmerton, L. M. (2014). Interventions to assist health consumers to find reliable online health information: A comprehensive review. PloS One, 9(4), e94186.
Park C. M. (2002). Diversity, the individual, and proof of efficacy: complementary and alternative medicine in medical education. American Journal of Public Health, 92(10), 1568-1572.