Complementary Medicine in Nursing Homes - Results of a Mixed Methods Pilot Study

Ortiz, Miriam; Soom Ammann, Eva; Salis Gross, Corina; Schnabel, Katharina; Walbaum, Torsten; Binting, Sylvia; Fischer, Herbert Felix; Teut, Michael; Kottner, Jan; Suhr, Ralf; Brinkhaus, Benno (2014). Complementary Medicine in Nursing Homes - Results of a Mixed Methods Pilot Study. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 14(1), p. 443. BioMed Central 10.1186/1472-6882-14-443

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‘Kneipp Therapy’ (KT) is a form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) that includes a combination of hydrotherapy, herbal medicine, mind-body medicine, physical activities, and healthy eating. Since 2007, some nursing homes for older adults in Germany began to integrate CAM in the form of KT in care. The study investigated how KT is used in daily routine care and explored the health status of residents and caregivers involved in KT.

We performed a cross-sectional pilot study with a mixed methods approach that collected both quantitative and qualitative data in four German nursing homes in 2011. Assessments in the quantitative component included the Quality of Life in Dementia (QUALIDEM), the Short Form 12 Health Survey (SF-12), the Barthel-Index for residents and the Work Ability Index (WAI) and SF-12 for caregivers. The qualitative component addressed the residents’ and caregivers’ subjectively experienced changes after integration of KT. It was conceptualized as an ethnographic rapid appraisal by conducting participant observation and semi-structured interviews in two of the four nursing homes.

The quantitative component included 64 residents (53 female, 83.2 ± 8.1 years (mean and SD)) and 29 caregivers (all female, 42.0 ± 11.7 years). Residents were multimorbid (8 ± 3 diagnoses), and activities of daily living were restricted (Barthel-Index 60.6 ± 24.4). The caregivers’ results indicated good work ability (WAI 37.4 ± 5.1), health related quality of life was superior to the German sample (SF-12 physical CSS 49.2 ± 8.0; mental CSS 54.1 ± 6.6). Among both caregivers and residents, 89% considered KT to be positive for well-being.

The qualitative analysis showed that caregivers perceived emotional and functional benefits from more content and calmer residents, a larger variety in basic care practices, and a more self-determined scope of action. Residents reported gains in attention and caring, and recognition of their lay knowledge.

Residents showed typical characteristics of nursing home inhabitants. Caregivers demonstrated good work ability. Both reported to have benefits from KT. The results provide a good basis for future projects, e.g. controlled studies to evaluate the effects of CAM in nursing homes.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Social Anthropology

UniBE Contributor:

Soom Ammann, Eva and Salis Gross, Corina


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




BioMed Central




Eva Soom Ammann

Date Deposited:

11 Mar 2015 09:44

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2016 01:59

Publisher DOI:





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