ISER Publication - Alternative and complementary treatment needs and experiences of women with breast cancer.

ID: 1675

Jodi Barnett


Article Or Book, 7pp.

OBJECTIVES: The study objectives were to explore the potential need for and use of complementary and alternative (CAM) services among women diagnosed with breast cancer and to investigate reasons for nonreceipt of CAM.
DESIGN: The Alaska Breast Cancer Needs Assessment Survey was completed by female breast cancer survivors in Alaska. The survey assessed physical and psychologic symptoms, services received, satisfaction with treatment, communication with providers, and informational needs. Survey responses were obtained from 309 women with breast cancer, with a mean age of 56 years and high level of education.
RESULTS: Results revealed that most breast cancer survivors have significant needs for CAM services, and yet only a small proportion actually receives them. For example, virtually all women reported symptoms potentially amenable to treatment via individual counseling or nutritional interventions; however, only 29% and 45%, respectively, received such services. Women who did and those who did not receive CAM services (e.g., counseling, massage, meditation, and supplementation) generally did not differ in terms of their need for such services as measured via symptoms that could be supported by these interventions. However, the majority failed to be referred for such treatments or were unable to access them if referred.
CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that while access to services played a small role in nonreceipt of CAM services, the largest reason for CAM nonreceipt was failure to recognize their potential benefit on the part of providers and at least some patients. Raising awareness about the potential value of CAM among care providers for women with breast cancer is crucial, as it will likely lead to more CAM acceptance and utilization. Once providers accept and refer for CAM, patients' quality of life may be considerably enhanced, as the extant literature has demonstrated the potential value of CAM for breast cancer survivors.

Suggested Citation:

Brems, C., Barnett, J., Cress-Parret, G., Metzger, J., & Johnson, M.E. (2013). Alternative and complementary treatment needs and experiences of women with breast cancer. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 19(7), 657-663