Funding: This research was funded by the NHMRC Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Infection, Bioethics and Haematological Malignancies (grant no. 264625).
Ethics in Medicine
Survey of practices and policies relating to the use of complementary and alternative medicines and therapies in New South Wales cancer services
Article first published online: 17 JAN 2013
© 2013 The Authors; Internal Medicine Journal © 2013 Royal Australasian College of Physicians
Internal Medicine Journal
Volume 43, Issue 1, pages 84–88, January 2013
How to Cite
Raszeja, V. M., Jordens, C. F. C. and Kerridge, I. H. (2013), Survey of practices and policies relating to the use of complementary and alternative medicines and therapies in New South Wales cancer services. Internal Medicine Journal, 43: 84–88. doi: 10.1111/imj.12010
Conflict of interest: Ian Kerridge is a haematologist/BMT physician who is trained and practices entirely within the conventional/allopathic tradition.
- Issue published online: 17 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 17 JAN 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 9 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Received: 20 JUN 2012
- NHMRC Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Infection, Bioethics and Haematological Malignancies. Grant Number: 264625
- complementary and alternative medicine;
- CAM in cancer;
- NSW cancer service;
- CAM management in cancer;
- CAM therapy management;
- cancer service administration
To examine policies and practices relating to the provision, prescription and monitoring of complementary and alternative medicine and therapies (CAM) in conventional cancer services in NSW.
Self-administered questionnaire sent to directors of all 65 eligible cancer services in NSW in 2009.
Forty-three services responded to the survey (response rate 66%). Only six (14%) services reported having formal policies about CAM. Most (n = 33, 77%) expected that patients would be asked about CAM use during their initial assessment. Eight services (19%) provided and/or prescribed CAM for patients, and most of these (n = 7) recorded details of CAM use in patients' records. Only four (9%) services permitted CAM practitioners from the community to attend inpatients, whereas 24 (56%) permitted inpatients to bring in their own CAM. Most of these services (n = 17) required medical approval for the use of CAM. Of the latter, most (n = 13) recorded the use of approved CAM, but only seven recorded use of unapproved CAM and only three refused permission to continue use of unapproved CAM.
Most cancer services in NSW recognise potential CAM use by patients and expect medical staff to ask patients about their use of CAM. While few cancer services provided or prescribed CAM, over half permitted inpatients to bring their own CAM into hospital. There was little control over the use of CAM, however, and monitoring was lax. Given the wide usage of CAM by patients with cancer, this lack of control may compromise clinical outcomes, with potentially dangerous consequences.