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Knowledge, Attitudes, and Use of Complementary and Alternative Therapies by Providers Caring for Service Members with Low Back Pain


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Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) offer service members with low back pain (LBP) a non-opioid alternative to manage pain. Availability of CAM is varied across MTFs, and the reason is unknown. The Diffusion of Innovation explains that knowledge, attitudes, and communication influence the rate of adoption (use). Therefore, the purpose of the proposed study was to examine providers knowledge, attitudes, and use of CAM therapies for managing LBP. This study aimed to: (a) describe knowledge, attitudes, and use of CAM therapies by providers and student providers who care for service members with LBP, and (b) examine relationships between knowledge, attitudes, and use of CAM therapies. This study utilized a quantitative, cross-sectional survey design. A convenience sample of 868 students from Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences was recruited via email. Data were analyzed with descriptive and inferential statistics. A total of 122 participants completed the survey (response rate 14.1%). CAM knowledge scores were low for most therapies. Approximately 85% of participants were interested in learning more. Overall attitude scores were positive. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (p <0.05) and Graduate School of Nursing students (p < 0.05) had statistically more positive attitudes than physicians and students in the School of Medicine. Almost 70% of participants with clinical experience used at least one CAM therapy for the management of LBP. Both knowledge and attitudes were positively correlated with use of CAM. Certain CAM therapies are being adopted at higher rates than others. Findings suggest that efforts to increase CAM adoption further should be focused on increasing education and supporting positive attitudes. Educators may use the results to collaborate with other educators and revise curriculum. Policy makers may use the results to write policy on screening patients about CAM use and increasing provider continuing education.



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