Weathering the seasons of cancer survivorship: mind-body therapy use and reported reasons and outcomes by stages of cancer survivorship

Rebecca A Campo, Karyn L Leniek, Nicole Gaylord-Scott, Keturah R Faurot, Sunyata Smith, Gary Asher, Deborah Porterfield, Susan A Gaylord
Supportive Care in Cancer 2016, 24 (9): 3783-91

PURPOSE: Mind-body therapies (MBTs), a subset of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), are used by cancer survivors to manage symptoms related to their cancer experience. MBT use may differ by cancer survivorship stage (i.e., acute, short-term, long-term) because each stage presents varying intensities of medical activities, associated emotions, and treatment effects. We examined the relationship between MBT use and survivorship stage (acute <1 year; short-term 1 to 5 years; long-term >5 years since diagnosis) using the CAM supplement of the 2012 National Health Interview Survey. We also examined reported reasons for and outcomes of MBT use and frequency of MBT types.

METHODS: The sample included cancer survivors (N = 3076) and non-cancer controls (N = 31,387). Logistic regression tested the relationship of MBT use and survivorship stage. Weighted percentages were calculated by survivorship stage for reported reasons and outcomes of use and frequency of MBT types.

RESULTS: MBT use varied by cancer survivorship stage (p = 0.02): acute (8.3 %), short-term (15.4 %), long-term (11.7 %) survivorship and non-cancer controls (13.2 %). In the adjusted model, short-term survivors had 35 % greater odds of MBT use than did controls (95 % CI 1.00, 1.83). Reasons for and outcomes of MBT use varied among the survivorship stages, with more acute survivors reporting medical-related reasons and more short-term survivors reporting to manage symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: MBT may fulfill different symptom management needs at varying stages of survivorship. These findings can help inform supportive care services of survivors' use of MBT for symptom burden at each stage and the allocation of these services.

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