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Why people choose to not use complementary therapies during cancer treatment: a focus group study

Authors


  • Sources of support: This study was supported by the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation.

Lisa Beatty, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Psychology, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia (e-mail: lisa.beatty@flinders.edu.au).

Abstract

BEATTY L., KOCZWARA B., KNOTT V. & WADE T. (2012) European Journal of Cancer Care21, 98–106. Why people choose to not use complementary therapies during cancer treatment: a focus group study

While 50% of cancer patients use complementary therapies (CT) during treatment, few studies have examined why individuals choose not to use CT. This study aimed to address this gap in knowledge using a focus group methodology, where 36 participants took part in one of eight groups; participants were recruited until saturation of themes was achieved. Three categories of participants were investigated: patients/recent survivors (n= 14); volunteers/advocates (n= 16), the majority of whom were also long-term survivors; and health professionals (n= 6). Focus groups were digitally audio-recorded, transcribed, and coded thematically using NVivo software. Reasons for non-use fell into four broad themes: (1) Resource barriers, particularly the cost and lack of time; (2) fear and distrust, including the potential for drug interactions; (3) lack of evidence, including the unproven nature of many CT practices; and (4) satisfaction with conventional treatment. Two further themes related to the benefits of non-use and reasons for discontinuation. A sub-analysis indicated that reasons for non-use differed by CT category, with non-use being mentioned more frequently for biologically based and body-based therapies. Differences in understanding CT non-use emerged between patients, volunteers and health professionals. Findings have clinical implications regarding tailoring information for patients during and after cancer.

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