Complementary and Alternative Therapy Use During Treatment of Breast Cancer Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Lambe, Camille Eckerd
    • Affiliation: School of Nursing
  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is used often by women having treatment for breast cancer and has been studied extensively in European American, educated, affluent women. However, it is poorly understood in poor, uneducated, rural and African American women. Studies of folk medicine, spirituality and those few studies with ethnically diverse samples indicate that CAM is also used in these groups. The process by which women make decisions to use CAM during and after breast cancer treatment has not been clearly described. The aims of this study were to characterize CAM use during treatment for breast cancer in a sample of African American and Caucasian women; to examine precipitating and influential factors in Caucasian and African American women's choices to use CAM during breast cancer treatment; to describe the process and timing of decisions to use CAM; and to clarify the use of CAM for treatment of breast cancer related issues as compared to the use of CAM for maintaining and improving health. This exploratory descriptive study used a cross sectional design and multiple methods including a card sort, individual interviews and quantitative measures. A convenience sample of 19 African American and European American women participated, all of whom were CAM users and were receiving or recovering from breast cancer treatment. The women in the sample were generally educated beyond high school, were varied in age and income as well as type of residence (urban/rural). The results of this study indicate the importance of participant definitions of CAM. African American women in the sample reported higher use of CAM treatments than the European American women both for managing side effects of treatment and for their general health. The types of CAM treatments used by African American and Caucasian women were different. Having breast cancer motivated all the women to engage in a type of life review to search for reasons for having breast cancer and to affect adoption of healthy lifestyle choices in the form of CAM. These women used a process of deciding about CAM use that was shaped by people they considered to be experts, a variety of other information sources, their health beliefs and their own personal experiences with the CAM treatment. The decision to use CAM therapies involved weighing the pros and cons and trying out CAM therapies for their effectiveness. The importance of faith and spirituality, especially but not exclusively for African American breast cancer patients, was supported by these findings. Prayer was the CAM therapy chosen most often by all of the women in the sample. The study raises questions about literature indicating that women do not discuss CAM use with their health care providers. In fact, the findings indicate the importance of providers as a resource for patients considering CAM during treatment of breast cancer and the need for study of precise doses of CAM and conventional treatment given concurrently.
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  • Germino, Barbara B.
  • Open access

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