Complementary and alternative medicine use by patients with cancer in Wales: a cross sectional survey

Published on Dec 1, 2003in Complementary Therapies in Medicine1.98
· DOI :10.1016/S0965-2299(03)00126-2
Philip Harris6
Estimated H-index: 6
(Cardiff Metropolitan University),
Ilora G. Finlay Frcp Frcgp26
Estimated H-index: 26
(University of Wales)
+ 2 AuthorsKerenza Hood46
Estimated H-index: 46
(University of Wales)
Abstract Objectives: To determine the prevalence and cost of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use, and examine perceived satisfaction and reasons for using CAM. Design and setting: Cross sectional survey of 1697 patients with breast, prostate, lung or neurological cancer registered with a single NHS authority in Wales. Participants: One thousand and seventy-seven (64%) of patients, aged 18 years or over with cancer diagnosis of at least 3 months, returned analysable questionnaires. Thirty patients were interviewed by telephone. Main outcome measures: Number and proportion that had used CAM in the past 12 months, the types of CAM used, expenditure, satisfaction, demographic characteristics, and reasons for using CAM. Results: Five hundred and thirty-four, 49.6% (95% CI 46.6–52.6) of participants, reported using at least one type of CAM during the past 12 months: 221, 16.4% (95% CI 14.3–18.8), had consulted a CAM practitioner (average cost per person, £28 per month); 166, 15.4% (95% CI 13.4–17.7), indicated using CAM techniques (average cost per person, £16 per month); 456, 42.3% (95% CI 39.4–45.3), reported using over-the-counter diets, remedies or supplements (average cost per person, £10 per month). Dissatisfaction with CAM use was low, and most users indicated that they represented value for money. CAM users were more likely to be female, younger, better qualified, and to have used CAM before their current illness than non-users. Patients used CAM primarily for symptom relief and relaxation. Conclusions: Nearly half the cancer patients in this study had used CAM. A co-ordinated approach to quality assurance, information and advice, and the assessment of risk/benefit and cost effectiveness of CAM use is needed.
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