Impact of complementary and alternative medicine offerings on cancer patients’ emotional health and ability to self-manage health conditions
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OBJECTIVES: This descriptive study investigated how cancer patient characteristics and utilization of CAM resources, services, and activities at a regional cancer center were associated with patients' understanding of their health needs, emotional health, and their ability to self-manage their condition. DESIGN: Cross-sectional questionnaire. Sixty-one patients completed a mailed 17-item paper and pencil survey about their sociodemographics, use of CAM offerings, barriers, and perceived benefits. SETTING: Mail-based survey completed by cancer patients in a southern state. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: As a result of participating in the center's cancer support services, patients indicated if: (1) they had a better understanding of their health needs; (2) their emotional health has improved; and (3) they take better care of themselves when they are at home and in the community. RESULTS: Participants reported using 0.93 (±1.20) CAM activities (e.g., yoga), 0.62 (±0.71) resources (e.g., the library), and 1.62 (±1.34) services (e.g., monthly support groups), although also reported experiencing 0.74 (±0.81) barriers (e.g., transportation) to accessing these offerings. Perceived benefits were interrelated, where those perceiving CAM offerings to improve their understanding of their health needs also perceived improved emotional health (χ2 = 27.93, P < 0.001) and better self-care (χ2 = 30.90, P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Greater utilization of CAM offerings was also associated with greater perceived benefits. These results highlight the benefits of CAM therapies for cancer patients' well-being. Integration of CAM therapies in standard cancer care should be encouraged to complement cancer treatment.
author list (cited authors)
Fitzsimmons, A. G., Dahlke, D. V., Bergeron, C. D., Smith, K. N., Patel, A., Ory, M. G., & Smith, M. L.