Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Cancer Patients - Analysis of Influencing Factors in Turkey

Malak A. T., Karayurt O., Demir E., Yumer A. S.

ASIAN PACIFIC JOURNAL OF CANCER PREVENTION, vol.10, no.6, pp.1083-1087, 2009 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 10 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1083-1087
  • Keywords: Complementary and alternative treatment, cancer patients, influencing factors, BREAST-CANCER, EASTERN TURKEY, PREVALENCE, THERAPIES, WOMEN
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


Objective: This cross-sectional and descriptive study analysed complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices of patients with cancer diagnoses and influencing factors. Methods: The subjects consisted of 55 cancer patients hospitalized in Canakkale State Hospital between November 2008 and March 2009 and who were willing to participate in the study. Research data were collected using a sociodemographic characteristics form regarding CAM practices of cancer patients and the Beck Hopelessness Scale (total points 20, rising with the degree of hopelessness). Written consent from the head physician of Canakkale State Hospital and verbal consents of the patients were obtained in order for the research to be performed. The data were analysed usign the SPSS 13.0 program (numbers and percentages, chi-squared and Mann Whitney U tests). Findings: Of the patients (49.1%, female and 50.9% male) 78.2% had been living with a cancer diagnosis for more than two years. Of the 23.6% of patients with breast cancer and 21.8% with lung cancer, 87.2% uses CAM (72.7% received alternative treatment and 65.5% complementary treatment). Alternative treatments apply herbal treatments concomitantly such as honey, garlic; balsam apple, iscum album, tar oil and 29.1% of them only use stinging nettle. As a complementary treatment; 60% of patients pray for healing and 16.4% of them have massage regularly. Patients explained that they were using the alternative medicine in order to mitigate effects of the disease, to prevent its recurrence, to increase blood values, to feel psychologically relieved; and they were using complementary medicine just to feel psychologically relieved. Of 60% patients chose not to share their CAM practice with doctors and nurses. 36.4% of them use CAM on friend advice, 20% under media influence, 36.4% on their own initiative and 21.8% under family influence. The satisfaction from CAM is 61.1%. The rate of those who find alternative medicine expensive is 21.8%. There is statistically no correlation between CAM practice and age, gender, marital status, location they live for a long time, education and financial status of patients (p>0.05). The average of total hopelessness score of patients is 8.09 +/- 2.59, there is no statistically meaningful correlation between hopelessness score average of patients who use CAM and who do not use (p>0.05). Conclusion: The cancer patients in the study who live in Canakkale province and in its districts use CAM. CAM practice does not vary by selected sociodemographic characteristics and the hope level. It is important that the health care professionals (nurse, doctor, etc.) should be conscious of CAM-drug interactions and notify the patients about the risk.