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Predictors of use of complementary and alternative therapies among patients with cancer


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Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment

Oncol Nurs Forum. 2005 Nov 3;32(6):1115-22.


Judith M Fouladbakhsh, Manfred Stommel, Barbara A Given, Charles W Given


Purpose/objectives: To determine predictors of use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies among patients with cancer.

Design: Secondary analysis of two federally funded panel studies.

Setting: Urban and rural communities in the midwestern United States.

Sample: Patients with lung, breast, colon, or prostate cancer (N = 968) were interviewed at two points in time. 97% received conventional cancer treatment, and 30% used CAM. The sample was divided evenly between men and women, who ranged in age from 28-98; the majority was older than 60.

Methods: Data from a patient self-administered questionnaire were used to determine CAM users. Responses indicated use of herbs and vitamins, spiritual healing, relaxation, massage, acupuncture, energy healing, hypnosis, therapeutic spas, lifestyle diets, audio or videotapes, medication wraps, and osteopathic, homeopathic, and chiropractic treatment.

Main research variables: Dependent variable for analysis was use or nonuse of any of the identified CAM therapies at time of interviews. Independent variables fell into the following categories: (a) predisposing (e.g., gender, age, race, education, marital status), (b) enabling (e.g., income, health insurance status, caregiver presence, geographic location), and (c) need (e.g., cancer stage, site, symptoms, treatment, perceived health need).

Findings: Significant predictors of CAM use were gender, marital status, cancer stage, cancer treatment, and number of severe symptoms experienced.

Conclusions: Patients with cancer are using CAM while undergoing conventional cancer treatment.

Implications for nursing: Nurses need to assess for CAM use, advocate for protocols and guidelines for routine assessment, increase knowledge of CAM, and examine coordination of services between conventional medicine and CAM to maximize positive patient outcomes.

Publication Date: 

2005 Nov



Fouladbakhsh, MJ., Stommel, M., Given, AB., Given, WC. (2005) 'Predictors of use of complementary and alternative therapies among patients with cancer ', Oncol Nurs Forum. 2005 Nov 3;32(6):1115-22.

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