Research: SOLLNER and colleagues, D

Listed in Issue 23


SOLLNER and colleagues, Department of Medical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Leopold Franzens University, Innsbruck Austria. studied melanoma patients' attitude toward alternative therapies, compliance with conventional treatment, social support received and their coping strategies with their illness.



Out of 236 consecutive patients in a University hospital melanoma clinic serving the Tyrol region, 215 participated in the study. Patients completed questionnaires regarding their interest in alternative therapies, their distress and social support and coping skills.


117 patients (54.4%) expressed an interest in nonconventional therapy and 30 patients (14%) actually used such methods, those patients more often suffering from advanced cancer. Compared with the disinterested patients, those patients interested in alternative therapy were younger, showed a more active coping style and tendencies toward religiousness and search for personal meaning in their disease. These patients' confidence in conventional medicine and compliance with suggestions from their physicians were not less than of the uninterested patients, but they believed that they received less emotional support from their physicians and expressed interest in receiving much more support.


Melanoma patients consider non-conventional therapies to be supplementary to conventional medical treatment and as a strategy of avoiding passivity and coping with feelings of hopelessness. This does not diminish the need to educate patients regarding the lack of efficacy of unorthodox methods but stresses the importance of offering them adequate emotional support.


Sollner W et al. Attitude toward alternative therapy, compliance with standard treatment, and need for emotional support in patients with melanoma. Arch Dermatol 133(3): 316-21. March 1997.


Excuse me Messrs Sollner et al, but how is it that you already know that unorthodox medical methods lack efficacy in the treatment of melanoma and hence you feel obliged to educate your patients of such a fact? How successful are conventional medical treatments, and were not the conventional medical treatments of today the unconventional or radical experimental treatments of yesterday or last year? There is a considerable published medical literature regarding inhibitory and preventive effects of a number of nutrients upon melanoma, including Vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene, selenium and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. These results will eventually lead to "conventional" treatments with these dietary supplements.

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