Complementary therapies: evaluating their effectiveness in cancer.
ABSTRACT The use of complementary therapies is common among cancer patients. However, a major concern is that very few of these therapies have been appropriately evaluated and, thus, little is known about their safety and efficacy. The gold standard for evaluating cancer treatments is the randomized controlled trial (RCT). However, there are several issues inherent to the nature and practice of complementary therapies that interfere with the straightforward use of RCTs. Alternative approaches are often highly individualized and attempt to respond to patients' needs. They are often holistic, taking into account many facets of a patient's life. Placebo effects and the role of the provider are frequently recognized as an important part of treatment. Outcomes of complementary therapies are often subjective, rather than being more objective outcomes, such as increased survival time. Although it is important to evaluate complementary therapies, it is mandatory that studies be sensitive to these issues and that existing research methods be adjusted and modified for this purpose.
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ABSTRACT: A whole systems research approach was used to explore the psychosocial functions attributed to an Integrative Medicine oncology program. Field research was conducted at a cancer clinic to answer the following questions: (1) what meanings do the participants attribute to the Integrative Medicine oncology program; (2) what contributes to sustaining the Integrative Medicine program; and (3) what role does the Integrative Medicine program play in the lives of the participants. Participant observation and in-depth interviews were conducted at a community-based cancer clinic that offers various complementary modalities along with conventional cancer treatments. The data were obtained from a total of 23 participants including cancer patients/survivors, caregivers, volunteers who provided the complementary therapies, and healthcare professionals at the clinic. Results indicated that the Integrative Medicine program had three major psychosocial functions for those involved. Participants viewed the Integrative Medicine program as a place (1) to exchange health/medical information and learn from others' experiences and expertise, (2) to give and receive emotional support, and (3) for the individual to act on his/her transformed new identity and new life goals through serving others. The results illustrate the positive psychosocial impacts an Integrative Medicine program may bring to individuals involved in it and suggest the value of using a whole systems research (WSR) approach to Integrative Medicine research.EXPLORE The Journal of Science and Healing 11/2013; 9(6):365-71. · 0.94 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The use of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programmes has become increasingly common in many healthcare settings over the last decade. However, the use and indications for MBSR in an oncology setting has not been well explicated. This paper provides an overview of the psychosocial challenges of cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery, followed by a description of how MBSR programmes have and may be used with cancer populations, using our programme in Calgary, Canada, as an exemplar. Research investigating the use of MBSR shows significant improvements in mood, decreased stress symptoms, and normalisation of hormonal and immune function. MBSR has also been shown to be effective for decreasing the high levels of sleep disturbance often found in cancer patients. An instrument to measure levels of mindfulness, the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), has been developed and validated for use with cancer patients. Issues germane to working with this population such as considerations during patient screening for the MBSR programme and facilitatory training are discussed. Finally, the use of research designs such as dismantling studies and qualitative methods are considered.Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine 01/2005; 2(3):139-145.