Purpose: Patients with cancer increasingly use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in conjunction with conventional oncology treatments. Previous studies have not investigated postdiagnosis initiation of CAM therapies or independent correlates of use of individual CAM modalities. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and correlates of individual CAM modalities initiated after cancer diagnosis. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted of a random sample of adults with a cancer diagnosis (N = 1,228) seeking care at a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center within a 12-month period. Results: The majority of patients were female (64.7%), white (86.9%), and married (72.8%).Three-quarters (75.2%) used at least one CAM modality, and 57.6% of those using CAM initiated use after cancer diagnosis. For all CAM therapies combined, women were 1.7 times more likely than men to initiate any CAM therapy after cancer diagnosis. However, when CAM modalities were differentiated by type, men and women were equally likely to initiate all therapies except for psychotherapy and mind-body approaches. Postdiagnosis initiation of every CAM modality, except mind-body therapies, differed by cancer type. Conclusion: A significant proportion of patients initiated CAM use after diagnosis. However, specific type of CAM initiated varied by demographics and cancer type, suggesting there is not a "typology" of CAM user. Optimal comprehensive cancer treatment, palliation, and survivorship care will require patient and provider education regarding CAM use by modality type; improved provider-patient communication regarding potential benefits, limitations, and risks; and institutional policies to support integrated conventional and CAM treatment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health Policy