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Patient Educ Couns. 1999 Oct;38(2):161-5.

The patient's motivation in seeking complementary therapies.

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  • 1Division of Preventive Oncology, Cancer Care Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The motivations of cancer patients in seeking complementary therapies are, fundamentally, self-healing motivations which, when engaged appropriately, can contribute to the patient's psychological and physical well being. In this paper, we apply a theoretical model, the Risk Adaptation Model, to furthering the clinical understanding of the motivations of cancer patients in seeking complementary therapies. The model identifies six discrete cognitive processes which, in combination, are hypothesized to play a central role in therapy seeking. Emphasis in this model is placed on the patient's need to maintain positive expectancies (optimism) when faced with the risk and uncertainty of cancer. This understanding of complementary-therapy seeking is grounded in the perspective that clinicians must respect the autonomy of cancer patients in their quest for appropriate therapies, and assist rather than direct their process of therapy-seeking.

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