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J Soc Integr Oncol. 2009 Winter;7(1):26-34.

Survey of complementary and alternative medicine practitioners regarding cancer management and research.

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Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The primary purpose of this survey was to assess the interest and concerns of a group of cancer complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners regarding CAM research issues. These issues include the CAM modalities used most often by CAM practitioners in the treatment of cancer patients, cancer CAM practitioners' perceptions of the most promising areas of cancer CAM research, the perceived obstacles to carrying out research objectives in the emerging field of cancer CAM research, the extent of awareness of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Best Case Series Program, and CAM practitioners' level of interest in research collaboration with CAM researchers. A cross-sectional survey of a convenience sample of cancer CAM practitioners was conducted. One hundred thirty-four respondents completed the survey. About 72% of the respondents were involved in the care of cancer patients, and these were considered the informative respondents. All results were from the informative respondent group. Respondent practitioners provided care using interventions from all seven of the predefined CAM categories. This care was provided to improve both quality of life and survival. Over two-thirds of the respondents rated research in pharmacologic and biologic treatments, alternative medical systems and nutritional therapeutics for cancer treatment, and symptom/side-effect management as high-priority areas. Although no single obstacle to research predominated as the most significant, the most frequently encountered obstacle was lack of awareness of appropriate funding sources (75.4%). More than 83% of respondents expressed some interest in or willingness to establish research collaboration with a cancer researcher. The results from this survey indicate that many cancer CAM practitioners have shared interests, perceived obstacles, and desired research opportunities. Despite a small sample size and lack of a feasible process for random sampling, this survey highlights avenues to promote and support collaborative research. The NCI/Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine will continue to respond to the concerns elucidated by the survey by developing strategies for future program opportunities within the NCI.

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