Three hundred randomly selected nurses employed at the university hospital of Berne were asked by means of a questionnaire as to the application of complementary methods (CM) in patients of this hospital. 75% of the questionnaires were completed. 95% of the nursing staff indicated that they had recommended or applied CM's. The most frequently used methods being compresses, aroma therapy and homoeopathy. The members of the nursing staff, who use CM are ecology-minded, have had higher education and are nutrition conscious. CM training was found in 21%. The application of CM is usually suggested by members of the nursing staff, less frequently by the patients and rarely by physicians. One quarter of the nursing staff consults a physician before applying CM. Motivations for the application of CM are often based on the experiences of others and experiences from one's own childhood. Homoeopathy is the most prevalent method. CM is regarded to be integral, supplementary and conducive for the integration of orthodox medicine and psyche. In arrangement with the nursing staff direction we do not critically discuss our observations in this paper.