Traditional and complementary approaches to child health
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Traditional and complementary approaches to child health

Nicola Robinson Professor of traditional Chinese medicine and integrated health, Faculty of Health and Social Care, London South Bank University
Ava Lorenc Research fellow, London South Bank University

Aim To explore primary care nurses’ reported behaviour in consultations and their knowledge, beliefs and attitudes in relation to traditional and complementary approaches (TCA) for children.

Method Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were carried out with 15 nurses (practice nurses, nurse practitioners and health visitors) in north west London. Qualitative data were analysed using framework analysis.

Findings Health visitors had greater knowledge and understanding of TCA than practice nurses or nurse practitioners, often informed by patients and personal experience. Health visitors reported that they discussed TCA with families using a culturally competent and family-centred approach to explain the advantages and disadvantages of TCA. This is probably made possible by their ongoing, close relationship with parents in the home environment and their focus on child health. Other primary care nurses were reluctant to engage with patients on TCA because of concerns about liability, lack of information and practice and policy constraints.

Conclusion Practice nurses and nurse practitioners may be able to improve their holistic and patient-centred practice by learning from health visitors’ experience, particularly cultural differences and safety issues. Nurses and their professional bodies may need to explore how this can be achieved given the time-limited and focused nature of practice-based consultations.

Nursing Standard. 25, 38, 39-47. doi: 10.7748/ns2011.


Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review