Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use During Chemotherapy: Patient Perspectives, Experiences, and Support Needs

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractResearchpeer-review


Introduction: 40-80% of cancer patients use complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) to manage the side effects of chemotherapy. However, CAM use is often self-prescribed and undisclosed to health professionals. Therefore,
this study aimed to explore the perspectives, experiences, and support needs regarding chemotherapy-related CAM use.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted in adult participants who recently completed chemotherapy treatment at a hospital in Brisbane, Australia. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed by three investigators using NVivo 12 Software.

Results: Ten participants were included (70% female, 80% over 55 years). Identified themes were natural complement to curative drugs, hope for improved wellbeing, and trust in knowledge, as well as a sub-theme of vulnerability to external opinions. All themes were positioned within an overarching driver of historical responses.

Conclusions: Health practitioners have an integral role in initiating CAM discussions and guiding appropriate use of CAMs. More extensive qualitative and quantitative research is needed to establish the safety and efficacy of cancer-related CAM use before appropriate guidelines can be implemented to improve patients’ quality of life and wellbeing during chemotherapy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number180
Pages (from-to)26
JournalNutrition and Dietetics
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020
EventDietitians Association of Australia 37th National Conference: Discover. Grow. Evolve - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 23 Aug 202025 Aug 2020
Conference number: 37th


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