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Integr Cancer Ther. 2008 Sep;7(3):139-46. doi: 10.1177/1534735408322847.

Role of religiosity and spirituality in complementary and alternative medicine use among cancer survivors in California.

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  • 1VA Long Beach Healthcare System, Long Beach, California 90822, USA.



Cancer survivors often turn to religion, spirituality, and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) because they perceive these areas as being more holistic and patient-centered than conventional medicine. Because increased religiosity and spirituality have been found to be associated with higher CAM use in the general population, it was hypothesized that these factors would be important predictors of CAM use in cancer survivors.


The study included a subsample of 1844 people with cancer or a history of cancer from the 2003 California Health Interview Survey of CAM, a cross-sectional survey of a population-based sample of adults in California. Prevalence and predictors of religious/spiritual forms of CAM (R/S CAM) and nonreligious/nonspiritual forms of CAM (non-R/S CAM) were compared. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify the predictors of R/S CAM and non-R/S CAM.


Nearly two thirds of participants reported using at least 1 type of R/S CAM, and 85% reported ever using non-R/S CAM. The majority of cancer survivors reported that they were very/moderately religious or spiritual. Both religiosity and spirituality were strongly related to non-R/S CAM use, but in opposite directions. Very or moderately religious cancer survivors were less likely (odds ratio=0.30; 95% confidence interval, 0.12-0.40) than nonreligious cancer survivors to use non-R/S CAM. In contrast, very or moderately spiritual cancer survivors were more likely (odds ratio=2.42; 95% confidence interval, 1.16-6.02) than nonspiritual cancer survivors to use non-R/S CAM.


The use of R/S CAM and non-R/S CAM is very high in cancer survivors. It may be helpful for clinicians to ascertain their patients' use of these types of CAM to integrate all forms of care used to managing their cancer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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