Author(s): Lewith GT, Broomfield J, Prescott P
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is used by one in ten of the UK population yearly and 47\% during their lifetime. One-third of cancer patients seek some form of CAM treatment during their illness. AIM: To evaluate the use of and attitudes to CAM among patients and all healthcare staff in the Southampton Cancer Care Directorate (UK). SETTING: The Royal South Hants Hospital, Countess Mountbatten and Oakhaven Hospices. METHOD: A questionnaire-based survey performed between January 2001 and March 2001. RESULTS: Two hundred and seventy questionnaires were distributed to patients and 162 responses received. The distribution of cancers within this population was generally typical of those in the community. Thirty-two percent (n = 52) were receiving some form of CAM, half of those receiving CAM were in hospice care. Forty-nine percent of those not receiving CAM would like to, and 76\% of all patients would be prepared to pay for this treatment. The five most popular treatments were massage, nutrition, aromatherapy, relaxation and reflexology. While most patients expected CAM to palliate their symptoms (n = 149, 92\%), some had unrealistic expectations that CAM would cure their cancer (n = 13, 8\%). Four hundred and forty-eight staff questionnaires were distributed and 196 responses were received: 148 (75.5\%) from nurses. Twenty-one percent of staff responding had CAM training and two-thirds would like to receive training. The most popular therapies used by staff were the same as those identified by the patients. Ninety-nine percent of staff and 98.5\% of patients wished to see CAM treatments introduced into service provision within the Cancer Care Directorate. CONCLUSIONS: The use of CAM for cancer care in Southampton is widespread and consistent with its use nationally. There is a clearly expressed need for CAM treatments by patients and a willingness to pay. Two-thirds of the cancer care staff responding wished to receive training in and provide these therapies. There are some misconceptions among patients about the role of CAM in cancer care which need to be discussed and resolved. We believe that all cancer care units should have clear policies on the use of CAM for cancer patients.
This article was published in Complement Ther Med
and referenced in Journal of Integrative Oncology