Free
Poster Session
Issue Date: July 2015
Published Online: July 01, 2015
Updated: April 30, 2020
A Preliminary Look at Knowledge, Attitudes, and Personal Use of Complementary/Alternative Medicine (CAM) Among Occupational Therapy Practitioners
Author Affiliations
  • Ithaca College
  • Ithaca College
  • Ithaca College
Article Information
Complementary/Alternative Approaches / Basic Research
Poster Session   |   July 01, 2015
A Preliminary Look at Knowledge, Attitudes, and Personal Use of Complementary/Alternative Medicine (CAM) Among Occupational Therapy Practitioners
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911505018. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO1093
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911505018. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO1093
Abstract

Date Presented 4/16/2015

This preliminary study aimed to describe the knowledge, attitudes, and personal use of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) among occupational therapy practitioners in the United States. Further research is needed to investigate potential knowledge gaps and attitudes that could interfere with providing client-centered and holistic occupational therapy services.

SIGNIFICANCE: Complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) use continues to grow in the United States, especially among those with chronic health conditions. As a result, more occupational therapy practitioners will be working with clients who consume CAM. Currently, there is little evidence to describe occupational therapy practitioners’ knowledge, attitudes, and personal use of CAM and how practitioners’ perception affects client care. In this preliminary study, we begin to investigate this important and complex topic.
INNOVATION: In this research study, we begin to describe the relatively unexplored topic of occupational therapy practitioners and CAM. Gaining clarity of occupational therapy practitioners’ perspective will inform future research aimed to promote client-centered and holistic occupational therapy services.
APPROACH: Research questions for this study include the following: What demographic variables, if any, are predictors of practitioners’ knowledge of CAM? What are the attitudes about CAM among occupational therapy practitioners? What are the most commonly personally used CAM therapies by occupational therapy practitioners in the last 12 mo preceding completion of the survey? Is there a relationship between practice area and most common CAM therapies personally used by occupational therapy practitioners in the 12 mo preceding the completion of our survey?
As acceptance and use of CAM continues to grow in the United States, little is known about occupational therapy practitioners’ knowledge, attitudes, and personal use of CAM. This may have significant implications for providing client-centered and holistic occupational therapy services in the ever changing health care arena.
METHOD: In this study, we used a cross-sectional survey design with Qualtrics—an online survey software program. All research was conducted electronically, in which surveys were distributed to participants via e-mail generated at Ithaca College (IC). Participants were recruited from the Occupational Therapy Fieldwork Database at IC. Initial e-mails were sent to fieldwork contacts who were encouraged to forward the e-mail to colleagues. Participants were required to be licensed occupational therapists and working full time in the United States.
The survey consisted of 16 questions assessing knowledge, 15 items assessing general attitudes towards CAM, 4 items assessing specific attitudes toward occupational therapy and CAM, and 31 items assessing personal use of CAM. Data were collected via Qualtrics and were analyzed with SPSS Version 21.0. Descriptive statistics were used for the first three research questions. Cross-tabulation was used for the fourth research question.
RESULTS: The mean score on the knowledge questions was 69% (n = 99). No statistical significance was identified between demographic variables and knowledge scores. An overall median score of 3 out of 5 was identified for general attitude items toward CAM, with a slight increase in attitude items specific to CAM and occupational therapy. Personal use of CAM varied, with exercise that is not used for managing weight being the most common (81.4%). Using daily vitamins, relaxation, and massage were used by more than 50% of participants. Participants working in the practice area of rehabilitation, disability, and participation used CAM the most.
CONCLUSION: This study indicates basic knowledge of CAM concepts and therapies, a positive view of CAM, and use of a variety of CAM therapies among occupational therapy practitioners. This study provides a preliminary description of a small sample of occupational therapy practitioners’ perspectives that will help to inform future research regarding this complex topic.