Use of complementary medicine by adult patients participating in cancer clinical trials.

A. Sparber, L. Bauer, G. Curt, David M Eisenberg, T. Levin, S. Parks, S. M. Steinberg, J. Wootton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

162 Scopus citations

Abstract

PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: To document the prevalence, demographic correlates, patterns of use, and beliefs about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies of adult patients enrolled in National Cancer Institute (NCI) clinical trials. DESIGN: Prospective, cross-sectional, descriptive survey. SETTING: W.G. Magnuson Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. SAMPLE: Convenience sample of 100 English-speaking, adult patients with cancer admitted to intramural clinical trials. METHODS: A standardized, 99-item questionnaire assessing use of CAM therapies pre- and postcancer diagnosis was administered by face-to-face interview. MAIN RESEARCH VARIABLES: Use of CAM therapies, beliefs, communication with physician. FINDINGS: 63% used at least one CAM therapy, with an average use of two therapies per patient. Men were significantly less likely to use a therapy than women; women were more likely to use numerous therapies. Cancer diagnosis seems to have had no influence overall on the frequency of use of CAM therapies. The major reasons stated for CAM use were for treatment-related medical conditions as well as depression, anxiety, and insomnia. The most frequently reported therapies were spiritual, relaxation, imagery, exercise, lifestyle diet (e.g., macrobiotic, vegetarian), and nutritional supplementation. Patients unanimously believed that these complementary therapies helped to improve their quality of life through more effective coping with stress, decreasing the discomforts of treatment and illness, and giving them a sense of control. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with cancer use various complementary therapies to cope with their disease and the rigors of clinical trials. Women and those with higher educational backgrounds were more frequent users. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: Nurses who provide care to subjects of biomedical research have an opportunity and responsibility regarding their patients' use of CAM therapies. Nurses may use in-house resources to help evaluate subjects' use of a CAM modality or to provide quality-of-life therapies such as relaxation, imagery, or healing touch. Discussing these health practices in a nonjudgmental manner adds to the assessment of patients' coping skills and ability to make decisions about their health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-630
Number of pages8
JournalOncology nursing forum
Volume27
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2000

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    Sparber, A., Bauer, L., Curt, G., Eisenberg, D. M., Levin, T., Parks, S., Steinberg, S. M., & Wootton, J. (2000). Use of complementary medicine by adult patients participating in cancer clinical trials. Oncology nursing forum, 27(4), 623-630.