The field of health care is transforming at a pace like never before. According to Tracy and Lindquist (2003), integration of complimentary therapy is increasing at a considerable rate in both public and health care institutions, thus having a significant ramification on critical care. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the terminology – complimentary therapy. Cassileth and Vickers (2011) state that most published terminologies define complementary and alternative medicine simply as anything that is not conventional medicine. In this literature, role of complimentary therapy in critical care will be discussed.
Academic literature by Kramlich (2018) argues that in recent decades, various studies demonstrated the evidence of complimentary therapy’s effectiveness in critical care setting including the following therapeutic techniques. Reiki appeared to be valuable in limiting anxiety and pain in dialysis patients. Similarly, massage therapy has been effectively integrated into pre-procedural invasive cardiovascular practice in order to minimize anxiety and pain. Elementary academic works are proposing convincing benefits of traditional Chinese medicine as an adjunct to treatment of septic shock. Moreover, the lavender aromatherapy is used in critical care setting for enhancements of sleep.
In the same vein, Schofield, Smith and Aveyard (2007) found that the integration of complementary therapies following a diagnosis of cancer in critical care is a significant and thriving phenomenon. They also highlighted that complimentary therapies are perceived to provide holistic approach in cancer patients which at the same time minimises their fear for addiction of pain killers and its adverse effects.
A study by Gelinas et al (2012) propose that four non-pharmacological interventions were found to be remarkably helpful, relevant and feasible for pain management in intensive care units which were; music therapy, distraction, simple massage and family presence were addressed by patients, family members and nurses. Similarly, Dritsas (2013) submitted an analysis report on the influence of music to enhance relaxation in intensive care unit. The authors delivered valid scientific verification that musical intervention may be effective technique in critical care settings for minimising anxiety associated with reduction of heart rate and arterial pressure. In addition, listening to music may also positively affect respiratory rate and modify levels of stress related neuro-hormones.
However, Gelinas et al (2012), concluded that it is certain that various complimentary therapies are helpful in management of pain in acute care but they should have additional verifiable evidence to support its effectiveness as a measure for pain relief. Tracy and Lindquist (2003) support the idea that integration of pharmacological based complementary and alternative measures such as herbal and homeopathic products could interact with conventional medicine which is a major concern for practitioners. Furthermore, physicians in a critical care setting turn to complementary therapy mostly as a comfort measure after lifesaving interventions eventually become ineffective. Almost every paper raises the concern that there is insufficient evidence to enable robust conclusion about the effectiveness of complementary and alternative therapy in critical care setting.
It can be concluded that the role of complimentary therapy in critical care is still in its nascent stages with a certain degree of uncertainty but it holds a bright future in coming decades. Further research and studies can serve as a resource for the safety and effectiveness of CAT in critical care department, although the administration of complimentary therapy alone with allopathic medicine should be tailored according to the indication and preference of individuals and their family members. Kramlich (2018) advocate that risk can be prevented and efficiency can be improved by open communication and following institutional policies evolving evidence based guidelines.
Cassileth B.R., Vickers A.J. (2004) “Massage therapy for symptom control: outcome study at a major cancer center”. Journal of Pain & Symptom Management. 28;3:244-9
Dritsas, A. (2013) ‘Music Interventions as a Complementary Form of Treatment in ICU Patients’, Hospital Chronicles, 8(2), pp. 58–59. Available at: <https://login.ezproxy.utas.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=her&AN=87049237&site=eds-live (Accessed: 11 March 2019)>.
Gélinas, C, Arbour, C, Michaud, C, Robar, L & Côté, J 2013, ‘Patients and ICU nurses’ perspectives of non-pharmacological interventions for pain management’, Nursing In Critical Care, vol. 18, no. 6, pp. 307–318, viewed 11 March 2019, <https://login.ezproxy.utas.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mdc&AN=24165072&site=eds-live>.
Kramlich, D 2016, ‘Strategies for acute and critical care nurses implementing complementary therapies requested by patients and their families’, Critical Care Nurse, no. 6, p. 52, viewed 11 March 2019, <https://login.ezproxy.utas.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsggo&AN=edsgcl.478019577&site=eds-live>.
Schofield P, Smith P, Aveyard B & Black C 2007, ‘Complementary therapies for pain management in palliative care’, Journal of Community Nursing, vol. 21, no. 8, pp. 10–14, viewed 11 March 2019, <https://login.ezproxy.utas.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ccm&AN=106176715&site=eds-live>.
Tracy MF & Lindquist R 2003, ‘Preface: complementary and alternative therapies in critical care’, Critical Care Nursing Clinics of North America, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. xiii–iv, viewed 11 March 2019, <https://login.ezproxy.utas.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ccm&AN=106879587&site=eds-live>.