Gaining insight into the what, why and where of complementary and alternative medicine use by cancer patients and survivors

N Humpel, S C Jones
European Journal of Cancer Care 2006, 15 (4): 362-8
The aim of this study was to gain a greater understanding of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among cancer patients and survivors. Specific objectives included types used and timing, motivations for use and benefits received, sources of information on CAM and communication with doctors. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 19 patients and survivors (mean age = 57 years). Findings on frequency and type of CAM use were consistent with previous studies. Additionally, we found that the main expected benefit from using CAM was to boost the immune system, that participants could not readily explain the nature of the benefits they received, that CAM practitioners and books were the main sources of CAM information, and that the majority reported some discussion of CAM with a doctor. A greater range of questions needs to be asked of cancer patients in future quantitative studies. Reasons for commencing and stopping use of CAM and the quality of the CAM information source will be imperative to uncover, especially as the Internet is increasing in importance as a source for health information.

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