Patient decision-making about complementary and alternative medicine in cancer.

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OBJECTIVE: In this paper, we set out to describe the personal and social contexts of treatment decisions made by cancer patients concerning complementary and alternative medicine (cam) and also the process through which cancer patients reach cam decisions throughout the cancer trajectory. METHODS: We selected and reviewed a variety of cam decision-making models published in the past 10 years within the Canadian health literature. RESULTS: The cam decision-making process is influenced by a variety of sociodemographic, disease-related, psychological, and social factors. We reviewed four main phases of the cam decision-making process: taking stock of treatment options; gathering and evaluating cam information; making cam decisions; revisiting the cam decision. Immediately following diagnosis, cancer patients become interested in taking stock of the full spectrum of conventional and cam treatment options that may enhance the effectiveness of their treatment and mediate potential side effects. Information about cam is then gathered from numerous information sources that vary in terms of credibility and scientific legitimacy, and is evaluated. When making a decision regarding cam options, patients attempt to make sense of the diverse information obtained, while acknowledging their beliefs and values. The cam decision is often revisited at key milestones, such as the end of conventional treatment and when additional information about disease, prognosis, and treatment is obtained. CONCLUSIONS: The cam decision-making process is a dynamic and iterative process that is influenced by a complex array of personal and social factors. Oncology health professionals need to be prepared to offer decision support related to cam throughout the cancer trajectory. PMID: 18769576
Title of abstract: 
Patient decision-making about complementary and alternative medicine in cancer.
Balneaves LG, Weeks L, Seely D.
University of British Columbia, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine
Monday, December 31, 2007 - 19:00
Current Oncology, 2008;15 Suppl 2:s94-s100.

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