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J Altern Complement Med. 2017 May;23(5):362-369. doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0289. Epub 2017 Apr 28.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use and Its Association with Emotional Status and Quality of Life in Patients with a Solid Tumor: A Cross-Sectional Study.

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1 School of Nursing, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston , Houston, TX.
2 School of Medicine, Pusan National University, and Biomedical Research Institute, Pusan National University Hospital , Busan, South Korea .



Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has been used widely in various populations for various purposes, including emotional support and improvement of quality of life (QOL). However, CAM use and purposes for using CAM are less clear among Korean patients with a solid tumor. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and type of CAM use, and the association between CAM use and anxiety, depression, and QOL in patients with a solid tumor.


A cross-sectional survey.


A cancer center in Korea.


Two hundred and sixteen patients diagnosed with a solid tumor.


Standard questionnaires on CAM use, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer QLQ-C30.


One hundred thirty one patients (60.6%) reported using CAM. CAM users, compared with non-CAM users, were significantly younger (57.8 vs. 60.9 years, p = 0.05), had higher level of education (p = 0.008), had higher income (p = 0.008), were less likely to seek physician consultation on CAM use (p = 0.002), and had a more advanced stage of tumor (p = 0.003) with more distant metastasis (p = 0.001). The most commonly used CAM was herbal medicine (n = 89, 67.9%). CAM users had significantly lower anxiety (t = 5.21, p < 0.001) and depression (t = 4.90, p < 0.001) than non-CAM users. When the effects of CAM use were tested on anxiety, depression, and QOL, controlling for covariates, CAM use was significantly associated with 8.7% and 8.8% of variance in decreasing anxiety and depression, but there was no unique association of CAM use with variance in QOL.


CAM use is prevalent and younger age, higher education levels, higher income, less physician consultation, and higher cancer stage are significant correlates to CAM use. Controlling for covariates (e.g., gender, BMI), CAM use is significantly associated with lower anxiety and depression compared with those of non-CAM users.


anxiety; cancer; complementary and alternative medicine; depression; herbal medicine; quality of life

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