Author(s): Henderson JW, Donatelle RJ
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Abstract CONTEXT: A growing number of women are being diagnosed and successfully treated for breast cancer. Therefore, many women are living with a history of breast cancer. The use of complementary and alternative therapies within this patient population has increased. OBJECTIVE: To determine post breast cancer treatment health behaviors with regard to use of complementary and alternative therapies. DESIGN: Survey participants were asked about their use of 15 complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies. In order to determine the relative importance of the hypothesized predictor variables, standard logistic regression was performed with CAM use as the dependent variable. PARTICIPANTS: 551 women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and were post treatment. INTERVENTION: Telephone Survey. RESULTS: Telephone interviews were conducted with 551 females in the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area who had been diagnosed with breast cancer an average of 3.5 years earlier. Two-thirds (66\%) of the women used at least one CAM therapy during the previous 12 months, and the majority of them perceived that their CAM use was without the recommendation of their doctor. Relaxation/meditation, herbs, spiritual healing, and megavitamins were used most often. Significant predictors of CAM use included younger age, higher education, and private insurance. The majority of the CAM therapies were perceived by their users to be at least "moderately important" in remaining free of cancer. The reasons given for using CAM were to enhance overall quality of life, to feel more in control, to strengthen the immune system, and to reduce stress. CONCLUSIONS: Two-thirds of women in this study followed conventional treatment for breast cancer with one or more CAM therapies, which, they believed, could prevent cancer recurrence and/or improve their quality of life. CAM use did not reflect negative attitudes towards conventional medical care, but rather an orientation to self-care in the optimization of their health and well being.
This article was published in Altern Ther Health Med
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