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Integr Cancer Ther. 2011 Mar;10(1):38-46. doi: 10.1177/1534735410384591. Epub 2010 Nov 8.

Complementary and alternative medicine use among pediatric patients with leukemia: the case of Lebanon.

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American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.



International evidence indicates that caretakers of pediatric leukemia patients are increasingly using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies. Such a trend has never been substantiated in the Arab world.


Examine the frequency, types, modes, and reasons of CAM use among pediatric leukemia patients in Lebanon.


A cross-sectional design was utilized to survey (by phone) the caregivers of all pediatric leukemia patients on the rosters of the 2 largest cancer treatment facilities in Lebanon for years 2005-2009. A total of 125 parents out of 175 (71.4%) completed the questionnaire, which included 3 sections: socio-demographic characteristics, clinical information and CAM use details. Data analysis employed univariate descriptive statistics, t-test, and χ(2)


Overall, 15.2% of respondents reported using one or more CAM therapies for their child (95% confidence interval: 8.9% to 22.0%). The main CAM therapies used included dietary supplements, prayer/spiritual healing, and unconventional cultural practices (ingesting bone ashes). CAM therapies were used for strengthening immunity (42.1%) and improving the chance of cure (21%). Pediatric users of CAM were 2 years older than nonusers and had been diagnosed with leukemia for a longer period of time (4.76 ± 3.24 vs 3.49 ± 2.38, P<.05). The percentage of males among CAM users was higher than that among nonusers (89.5% vs 56.6%, P<.05).


Increasing awareness of both caretakers and physicians of pediatric leukemia patients on the effects and risks of CAM therapies is essential should rational, safe, and evidence-based utilization of CAM therapies be achieved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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