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


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 of55 cancer patients hospitalized in Çanakkale State Hospital between November 2008 and March 2009 and whowere willing to participate in the study. Research data were collected using a sociodemographic characteristicsform regarding CAM practices of cancer patients and the Beck Hopelessness Scale (total points 20, rising withthe degree of hopelessness). Written consent from the head physician of Çanakkale State Hospital and verbalconsents of the patients were obtained in order for the research to be performed. The data were analysed usignthe SPSS 13.0 program (numbers and percentages, chi-squared and Mann Whitney U tests). Findings: Of thepatients ( 49.1%, female and 50.9% male) 78.2% had been living with a cancer diagnosis for more than twoyears. 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 herbaltreatments concomitantly such as honey, garlic; balsam apple, iscum album, tar oil and 29.1% of them only usestinging nettle. As a complementary treatment; 60% of patients pray for healing and 16.4% of them havemassage regularly. Patients explained that they were using the alternative medicine in order to mitigate effectsof the disease, to prevent its recurrence, to increase blood values, to feel psychologically relieved; and they wereusing complementary medicine just to feel psychologically relieved. Of 60% patients chose not to share theirCAM 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 rateof those who find alternative medicine expensive is 21.8%. There is statistically no correlation between CAMpractice and age, gender, marital status, location they live for a long time, education and financial status ofpatients (p>0.05). The average of total hopelessness score of patients is 8.09 ± 2.59, there is no statisticallymeaningful 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 Çanakkale province and in its districts use CAM. CAMpractice does not vary by selected sociodemographic characteristics and the hope level. It is important that thehealth care professionals (nurse, doctor, etc.) should be conscious of CAM-drug interactions and notify thepatients about the risk.