Research: BEGBIE

Listed in Issue 19

Abstract

BEGBIE and colleagues, Department of Clinical Oncology, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia assessed and compared the use of alternative versus conventional medicine by cancer patients in a public hospital oncology unit.

Background

Methodology

Out of 507 patients who attended the Royal North Shore Hospital and Port Macquarie Base Oncology Outpatient Clinic, 335 (66%) completed a questionnaire survey, of which 319 (62%) were adequate for analysis. The main outcome measures were expectations of and satisfaction with conventional and alternative treatment and patient characteristics associated with this use.

Results

Expectations and satisfaction with both conventional and alternative treatment were very high. Alternative treatments - dietary and psychological methods being the most common - were used by 21.9% of patients. The Median annual cost for alternative treatment was $530 and most patients reported "value for money". Young age and being married were positively associated, and satisfaction with conventional treatment was negatively associated with alternative medicine use. 40% of patients did not discuss alternative medicine with their physician.

Conclusion

A significant proportion of cancer patients use one or more alternative therapies. The authors state that the use of alternative therapy may reflect on deficiencies in the current standard of care.

References

Begbie SD et al. Patterns of alternative medicine use by cancer patients. Med J Aust 165(10): 545-8. Nov 18 1996.

Comment

What a pity that the authors did not conclude that perhaps cancer patients use alternative therapies and are satisfied with the results because these therapies are helpful to them, rather than their more negative appraisal that people use these therapies because of deficiencies in current conventional treatment.

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