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October 2021

Complementary therapy use among older cancer patients

Author(s): Friedman, L. L., Given, C. W., Given, B. A., Christensen, K.

Journal/Book: Cancer Pract. 1999; 7: 350 Main St, Malden, MA 02148, USA. Blackwell Science Inc. 136-144.

Abstract: PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to assess the use of complementary therapies among older cancer patients, to report patterns of use and to understand who is more likely to use complementary therapies. DESCRIPTION OF STUDY: A survey was conducted of 699 older cancer patients at 4 weeks and 6 weeks into cancer treatment. All participants were 64 years of age or older, had received a diagnosis of breast colorectal prostate, or lung cancer, and were recruited from community cancer treatment centers throughout Michigan. Measures of interest included self-reported physical symptoms, depressive symptomatology, optimism, spirituality, and use of conventional and complementary health services. RESULTS: Approximately 33% of older cancer patients reported using complementary therapies. These individuals were more likely to be women, to be breast cancer patients, and to have a higher level of education. The three most frequently used therapies were exercise, herbal therapy, and spiritual healing. Complementary therapy users were significantly more optimistic than nonusers. Also, there were significant differences between users and nonusers on types of physical symptoms experienced, but no differences on reported depressive symptomatology or spirituality. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Oncology providers need to be aware that one third of their older patients were likely to supplement conventional care with complementary therapies. Therefore, providers should be knowledgeable about the safety and efficacy, in particular, of various exercise programs, herbal and vitamin therapies, and spiritual healing. It would be beneficial to develop a system within cancer centers by which patients could easily report on their use of complementary therapies allowing providers to work in partnership with their patients.

Note: Article Wyatt GK, Michigan State Univ, Coll Nursing, B422 W Fee Hall, E Lansing,MI 48824 USA

Keyword(s): cancer; complementary therapy; depression; elderly; optimism; UNITED-STATES; MEDICINE; SURVIVORS; HEALTH; CARE

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