SAGE Publications Inc.
Background. Complementary therapies (CTs) are increasingly utilized by cancer patients. Nonetheless, patients report insufficient support from health care practitioners (HCPs) and there is a general lack of patient-practitioner communication about CT use. Best care practices suggest that HCPs should address the needs of patients, including CT use. This study examined current practices of patients and HCPs as well as their interactions relating to CTs. Methods. A total of 481 cancer outpatients and 100 HCPs completed questionnaires. Patient questions addressed CT use and information needs; HCP questions addressed knowledge, opinions and beliefs about complementary and alternative medicine. Patient-practitioner communication around CT was also examined. Results. 47% of patients reported using CTs since diagnosis. Many commenced CT use to improve quality of life (65%) based on recommendations from family or friends. Patients acknowledged the need for trusted sources of information and would attend a hospital-based education program (72%). HCPs reported limited training about CTs but most (90%) expressed interested in receiving more training. The majority of HCPs (>80%) reported limited knowledge about the role of CTs in cancer care or evidence to support CT use. Questions about communication and interactions revealed that 80% of patients reported not having had an HCP speak to them about CTs. However, 63% of HCPs reported addressing CT use. Conclusion. Results demonstrate a need for improved CT education and training for patients and HCPs. increasing HCP knowledge and clinical skills will ensure patients information needs about CTs are acknowledged and attended to, thereby providing safer and comprehensive cancer care.
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