Impact of complementary and alternative medicine offerings on cancer patients’ emotional health and ability to self-manage health conditions

Alexandra G. Fitzsimmons, Deborah Vollmer Dahlke, Caroline D. Bergeron, Kasey N. Smith, Aakash Patel, Marcia G. Ory, Matthew Lee Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objectives: This descriptive study investigated how cancer patient characteristics and utilization of CAM resources, services, and activities at a regional cancer center were associated with patients’ understanding of their health needs, emotional health, and their ability to self-manage their condition. Design: Cross-sectional questionnaire. Sixty-one patients completed a mailed 17-item paper and pencil survey about their sociodemographics, use of CAM offerings, barriers, and perceived benefits. Setting: Mail-based survey completed by cancer patients in a southern state. Main outcome measures: As a result of participating in the center's cancer support services, patients indicated if: (1) they had a better understanding of their health needs; (2) their emotional health has improved; and (3) they take better care of themselves when they are at home and in the community. Results: Participants reported using 0.93 (±1.20) CAM activities (e.g., yoga), 0.62 (±0.71) resources (e.g., the library), and 1.62 (±1.34) services (e.g., monthly support groups), although also reported experiencing 0.74 (±0.81) barriers (e.g., transportation) to accessing these offerings. Perceived benefits were interrelated, where those perceiving CAM offerings to improve their understanding of their health needs also perceived improved emotional health (χ 2 = 27.93, P < 0.001) and better self-care (χ 2 = 30.90, P < 0.001). Conclusions: Greater utilization of CAM offerings was also associated with greater perceived benefits. These results highlight the benefits of CAM therapies for cancer patients’ well-being. Integration of CAM therapies in standard cancer care should be encouraged to complement cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-108
Number of pages7
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Cancer centers
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Emotional health
  • Self-management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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