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J Altern Complement Med. 2003 Aug;9(4):549-61.

Choice of unconventional treatment by patients with cancer.

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Centre for Media and Democracy in the Network Society, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.



Previous studies conducted on the use of unconventional treatment by patients with cancer have focused on unconventional treatment as a joint group of therapies. The objective of this study is to gather preliminary information about the use of different modes of unconventional cancer treatment by patients with cancer and to describe user profiles of standardized and individualized treatments.


Data originate from an ongoing explorative 5-year study of 441 consecutively registered cancer patients who have consulted medical doctors and alternative therapists practicing unconventional treatment in Denmark. This paper is based on data from the first and second of six questionnaires. The unconventional treatments included in this study are categorized into two forms of treatment: standardized and individualized treatment.


Four hundred and forty-one (441) Danish patients with cancer who use unconventional cancer treatment.


The analysis shows significant correlations between type of treatment and the following variables: gender, education, occupational status, type of cancer, purpose of seeking unconventional treatment, metastatic spread, opinion regarding appropriate unconventional treatment, and simultaneous use of unconventional treatment.


The study shows that there are significant differences between patients with cancer choosing standardized and those choosing individualized unconventional treatment. The probability of choosing standardized unconventional treatment is greatest among male participants, patients having shorter school education, and for patients who have recovery as the goal of seeking unconventional treatment. The probability of choosing individualized unconventional treatment is greatest among women, for patients with longer school education, and for patients wanting relief from symptoms, information, and improvement of general condition as the purpose of seeking unconventional cancer treatment. Patients with breast and gynecologic cancer are more inclined to seek individualized treatment than patients with all other cancer diseases.


The study points to the fact that it might be essential to differentiate between different forms of unconventional treatment to understand the use by patients with cancer and the outcomes of these treatments.

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