Research: BOURGEAULT, York Centre f

Listed in Issue 20

Abstract

BOURGEAULT, York Centre for Health Studies, York University, North York, Ontario, Canada ivyh@yorku.ca studied the attitudes and reactions of physicians to their patients' use of alternative cancer therapies, factors affecting these reactions and physicians' views of how the use of these therapies affected the physician-patient relationship.

Background

Methodology

Participants were 18 oncologists and 12 general practitioners (GPs) in Toronto.

Results

Many physicians were unfamiliar with alternative cancer therapies and indicated that their main information sources were their patients and the lay press. Although most of the physicians thought that the efficacy of alternative therapies was scientifically unproven, they respected their patients' decision to use them and encouraged them to continue with conventional treatment. Factors which influenced physicians' reactions included: the prognosis with standard treatment; exclusivity of the use of alternative therapies; and whether the alternative therapies were harmful. Although most physicians felt that the use of alternative cancer therapies did not affect the physician-patient relationship, several indicated that this caused some tension.

Conclusion

Due to the lack of information by physicians regarding alternative cancer therapies and their clinical efficacy, physicians' attitudes toward their use by patients are influenced more by the efficacy or inefficacy of conventional treatment and the invasiveness of the alternative therapy rather than by the efficacy of the alternative therapy used.

References

Bourgeault IL. Physicians' attitudes toward patients' use of alternative cancer therapies. Can Med Assoc J 155(12): 1679-85. Dec 15 1996.

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