alternative/complementary therapy, culture, older adults, postherpetic neuralgia, quality of life



  1. Young, Michele K. MSN, APRN,BC, OCN
  2. Wood, Madetric MSN, APRN,BC, CDONA
  3. Jean-Noel, Natacha MSN, RN, CCRN


The purpose of this article is to describe current knowledge and standards of care for postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) among older persons. Three influencing factors are considered: cultural implications, quality of life (QOL), and current practice of alternative/complementary therapy. A review of literature published between 2001 and 2006 was conducted. The findings indicate that PHN has debilitating effects on older adults regardless of culture. The impact of PHN on culture and ethnicity, particularly on the relationship between culture and patient's self-report of herpes zoster and/or PHN, has not been well investigated as evidenced in the literature. PHN is found to be associated with decreased health-related QOL among the elderly, with the most affected domains being sleep, mood, and general activity. Alternative and complementary therapy offers many advantages such as ease of use, availability, and low cost. However, due to lack of controlled trials and insufficient evidence, alternative therapy is not currently used widely and recommended. As the US population ages, the incidence of herpes zoster and PHN is expected to rise. Clinical trials that explore the response of the culturally diverse older adults to current treatment guidelines, strategies for prevention of PHN and its corresponding decrease in QOL, as well as controlled trials of alternative/complementary remedies should be considered.