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Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2005 Jun 15;44(7):660-8.

Use of alternative and complementary therapies in children with cancer.

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Sainte-Justine Hospital, Department of Pharmacy, Montreal, Quebec.



The use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) is becoming increasingly popular. Although considered beneficial by users, the potential for interaction or substitution with conventional treatment should not be overlooked by health care professionals. It is therefore important to gain insight into the prevalence and the factors related to the use of CAM. To establish the prevalence of use of CAM among children with cancer treated in a large pediatric hospital, describe the profile of use and factors related with use. As a secondary objective we aimed at measuring quality of life of the children aged 5 or more and compare the scores between users and non-users.


The study is a cross-sectional survey of parents whose child was treated at the oncology clinic or ward of Sainte-Justine Hospital, a large pediatric hospital in Montreal. Data on socio-demographic variables, the use of CAM and the quality of life was collected through a self-administered questionnaire. Quality of life was measured with the Child Health Questionnaire CHQ-PF50, while clinical data was collected from medical records.


A total of 115 patients were recruited and 92 parents completed and returned the questionnaire, resulting in a 80% response rate. According to this survey, 49% of the children used at least one type of CAM and 20% used herbal remedies/homeopathy/vitamins in the 2 months preceding the survey. Most popular CAM were spiritual/mental and physical strategies used by 35 and 33% of children under study, respectively. Only one parent reported having delayed a conventional treatment because of CAM. Although quality of life results must be interpreted with caution, they tend to favor non-users.


CAM is likely to be used by a wide variety of people. In our study, we found that about half of the children with cancer has used CAM in the 2 preceding months. No specific profile of CAM users emerged from this study. The high prevalence of CAM warrants further studies to better understand the reasons and consequences of CAM use particularly on quality of life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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