Global Health Issues: Complementary and Integrative Health Approaches

Globalization has brought the increased exchange of health practices whereby new trends are being adopted across the globe. The use of complementary and integrative health approaches is one of the changes, which presupposes the combination of conventional medicine and non-conventional medicine. A good example is the use of herbs as a complement to the already prescribed drugs (Adams, Magin, & Broom, 2013). This is a shift in the health sector that has seen a sharp increase in demand recently both in the USA and across the globe. As a result of nursing being at the epicenter of protecting the public’s health, a keen intention has been placed on nurses to better understand these practices as a means of cautioning the patients from the harm that they might be exposed to by the complementary and integrative approaches. This demand is in line with the fact that the effectiveness of these complementary approaches is largely unknown when it comes to the empirical evidence of the research. Moreover, the global perspective of the nurses is in line with the new reality of cultural exchange that has seen cultural-based medicine practice be shared across the world (Holtz, 2017). Nurses are expected to be active in preventive care, thus, having a deeper understanding of the matters, complementary and integrative health approaches present the best direction for the nurses to offer counsel on how the best patients need to go about with non-mainstream health approaches. The high level of cultural influence is at the heart of the complementary and integrative health approaches. Therefore, a deeper understanding of cultural health practices accompanied by whole-body health practices is needed to ensure that nurses are more empowered on how they can help patients who are also practicing complementary and integrative medicine that might be influenced by both national and global non-mainstream health practices.

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Historical Perspectives on Global Use of Complementary and Integrative Health Approaches in Nursing Learning

Adams, Magin, and Broom (2013) assert that complementary and integrative health approaches lay the influence of the culture on a human choice on the matter of which health care choices people make. Moreover, complementary and integrative health approaches are centered on the patients’ need to safeguard their whole-body solution. Therefore, it is the belief that a combination of both conventional medicine and non-conventional medicine presents the best way to maintain their health (Holtz, 2017). Moreover, complementary and integrative health approaches presented in the form of natural products are perceived to be less toxic compared to conventional medicine, a largely untrue belief. A close analysis of the above assertions demonstrates that the key luring fact towards people using the complementary and integrative health approaches is the societal influences caused by the cultural exchanges both locally and globally.

Therefore, the historical perspective on the global use of complementary and integrative medicine and nursing learning can be best demonstrated through the demands of the nursing theorists when it comes to the correlation between health and culture. Culture is a phenomenon that has been of great interest to nurses. The Transcultural Nursing theory formulated in 1950 demanded a total appreciation from the nurses that one cannot care for the patients in an environment that isolates the patient’s cultural beliefs (Butts & Rich, 2015). It was the demand that nurses needed to help their patients in appreciation that their health practices were largely influenced by the health beliefs, and values of their parent and their society. The attention to the theory was also reinstated in 2002 when the new agitation for the nurses was to avail care while respecting the increased diversity of culture due to the increased cultural exchange. This agitation demonstrates that the appreciation of cultural beliefs and health has been a topic of great interest in the nursing curriculum.

Recently and more consciously, after the adoption of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, nursing as a field has made critical steps toward ensuring that a nurse is more knowledgeable on matters as a means of offering diverse care to a diverse population. This is the main reason that nurses are now being demanded to improve their cultural competence and by doing this, they will also come into contact with the various complementary and integrative health approaches that the public is using. Therefore, with cultural values playing a huge role in the health decisions on complementary and integrative health approaches, the founding theories were keen to expose the nursing field to this challenge where they were expected to offer care to people who not only relied on their help but also the help of other complementary healthcare practitioners.

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The Importance of Documented/Published Health Care Disparities/Inequalities

One of the critical challenges facing the American health system is the inaccessibility of health services to some of the population within the society. It is this difference in the experience that certain people within the society go through that makes them find it impossible to access health care referred to as health care disparities or inequalities (Holtz, 2017). This is a vice that has made some members of the population, especially those of low income, earning bracket continue living without getting the right health care. However, despite this vice causing some people to live without the necessary health assistance, documented cases are useful.

The importance of these documented cases is the fact that they capture the underserved areas and this information is critical in making the necessary adjustment to better reach patients in these areas. Moreover, it is out of these documented cases of healthcare inequalities that both levels of government can allocate the appropriate resources to the deserving areas leading to the better accessibility of the health services in these areas. The matters of unaffordability are one of the leading factors that have brought about health care disparities (Barr, 2014). Therefore, when these issues are documented; then both local and federal governments can come up with appropriate subsidies that facilitate the less fortunate people towards gaining more access to health services. The documented cases of healthcare inequalities also help the health sector to have a reference point for self-evaluation on the matters. Moreover, it is these documented cases of healthcare inequalities that offer the best reference point on staffing issues such as the caregivers that ought to be prioritized in case there is a hiring opening (Barr, 2014). The documented care of health care inequality, thus, offers the sector a platform for evaluating its performance when it comes to the degree to which services are accessible within the unit of interest.

Formalized Regulatory Guidelines

The complementary and integrative health approaches are largely unregulated. This situation has appeared due to the high level of diversity involved both regarding practice and the medicine used. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) demands that patients need to be careful not to consume unapproved medicinal products under the complementary and integrative health approaches (NCCIH, 2016). Moreover, another agency that plays some passive role in this sector is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which has the responsibility of making sure that all the medicinal products being offered to the patient are safe for consumption. However, such bodies as NCCIH are in detailed research undertakings, and their feedback will provide a platform upon which the relevant formalize regulations might be formulated soon.

Moral, Legal or Ethical Issues

The complementary and integrative health approaches are heavily dynamic since they are highly influenced by the cultural beliefs of a patient. Therefore, the legal parameters of this form of medicine, nationally and globally, are very vague with the basic demand being the need for the caregivers to be licensed (Holtz, 2017). This fact makes matters of moral or ethical issues to be of high interest to the conventional caregivers when dealing with cases where complementary and integrative health approaches are at play. The intention is to ensure that despite the patients deciding to practice complementary and integrative medicine; they can access relevant information on potential benefits and harm that can stem from the practices. This demand can only be met if the concerned nurses have mastered the issue of cultural competence. One of the ethical issues is balancing between respecting personal autonomy to use complementary care and at the same time using conventional care (Lee & Zarowsky, 2015). The conventional caregiver is then expected to improve his/her scope so that he/she can offer guidance on the safeguards the patients can employ to make sure that one’s health is safeguarded despite utilizing both forms of health care. Another ethical issue is non-maleficence where the demand is for the conventional caregivers to put more effort into ensuring that the complementary medicine such as herbs and practices such as therapy affect patients are clearly through increased research and the feedback passed to the patients (Adams, Andrews, Barnes, Broom, & Magin, 2012). As a result, the patients will be in a position to make informed decisions on how best they can utilize the two forms of health care.

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Another ethical issue is beneficence where key attention should be directed towards ensuring that any effort put forth by both the conventional caregiver and the unconventional one is directed towards improving the health and welfare of the patient. To meet this demand, nurses should highlight the areas of harm within the complementary and integrative health approaches promptly to safeguard the patients from the adverse effect of continuing to consume bad medicine. This assertion is premised on the statement by NCCIH (2016) that the common tag in complementary and integrative care “natural” does not always amount to the product being safe.

The burden of Chronic Care

According to Wardle (2016), the figures for chronic care are unavailable, and this is because there is no formal involvement of the government or high-level insurance coverage. As a result, complementary and integrative health approaches remain a practice that has a low level of clarity both regarding effectiveness and harm. Therefore, quantifying the burden of chronic care is impossible at the moment (Coulter, Herman, & Nataraj, 2013). NCCIH is the body that has now been mandated to bring more clarity to the use of complementary and integrative health approaches and through the clarity on harm and benefits, then the element of the burden of chronic care will be easily identified.

Healthcare Productivity and Economic Costs

The success of the use of conventional and complementary and integrative health approaches will be brought by improved clarity on the latter. Therefore, at the moment, there is a higher risk that the complementary and integrative approach will bring more harm to the patient, and this is a challenge that has to be solved by conventional medicine where both levels of the government spend a lot of money. Therefore, there is a need for the conventional caregivers to be more involved in the research issues as a means of minimizing unnecessary costs from the medical complications emanating from some of the practices and medicines from the complementary and integrative health approaches. It is the research work from the bodies such as NCCIH where nurses and other caregivers will ensure that both the conventional and complementary health approaches work coherently towards improving the health of the public and ultimately reducing the costs incurred as a result of the complication of mixing these two forms of health care.

On the other hand, the health workforce in conventional medicine is expected to improve their expertise through expanding their scope on the matters of complementary and integrative health approaches, and this will amount to increased expectations and a shift in terms and conditions of engagement. Therefore, to motivate them into making these new shifts in their professionals, there is the need to look for ways of motivating them through both facilitation and remuneration. However, in the line of being sensitive to the need of curbing the cost, it is the recommendation that productivity needs to be improved through the empowerment and improved health workers-patient ratio. This will show that the nurses and other healthcare workers receive the necessary training to better understand the norms within the complementary and integrative health approaches, thus, helping the patients from a better-informed point of view. Besides, the improved caregiver-patient ratio, the conventional caregivers will be faced with less workload, providing them with enough time to better understand the benefits and harm emanating from a patient choice to utilize both the conventional and complementary health practices.

Conclusion

It is clear that the demand for complementary and integrative health approaches has been on the rise and this has necessitated the need for the conventional caregivers to improve their understanding of this form of health practice. Moreover, nurses have been necessitated to expand their scope on the matters of complementary and integrative health approaches from both the national and global perspective, due to the increased level of cultural exchange, and because it plays a major role in the continued complementary health approach. Similarly, the appreciation of culture and health has been a topic of interest in the nursing curriculum from early days through nursing theories. Culture has continued to be a part of nursing to an extent that after the adoption of the affordable care act, nurses are now expected to be culturally competent.

Cases of healthcare disparities present a clear picture of what should be changed within the sector in the line of making health services more accessible. Due to the challenge of complementary and integrative health approaches lacking clarity on their benefits to the patients (Novotny & Novik, 2015), the US government like other jurisdictions lacks a clear regulatory framework on how practices in this form of care need to be guided. The same lack of government guidelines has made it also hard for one to get figures on the burden of chronic care. Therefore, this is a health sector that has been left to be guided by the ethics and moral standard where the call is for the health practitioners to ensure that no harm is directed toward the patients. Moreover, more research is being undertaken by NCCIH to ensure that the needed clarity is availed to the conventional caregivers, non-conventional caregivers, and the patients above all. It is this research that will also safeguard the health sector from unnecessary costs such as harm caused to the patients by the complementary health approaches. However, the conventional caregivers are at the heart of this research and will need to be more motivated to meet these additional responsibilities. Their increased motivation, thus, needs to be cultivated through empowerment and reduced workload through the improved caregiver-patient ratio. This way, they will have enough time to improve their understanding of different cultures, and complementary and integrative health approaches ensuring that a patient utilizing this form of health practice together with the conventional medicine is better informed and safe.

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