Send to

Choose Destination
Altern Ther Health Med. 1999 Jan;5(1):71-6.

Use of alternative therapies among breast cancer outpatients compared with the general population.

Author information

HealthCare Chaplaincy, New York, NY, USA.



Breast cancer is the second largest cause of cancer death among women in the United States. Given the fear associated with its morbidity and mortality, patients might seek a variety of alternative treatments. No careful description of breast cancer patients' interest in or use of these therapies appears to exist.


To create a profile that describes interest in and use of a wide variety of alternative therapies available to breast cancer outpatients; to gather data concerning related issues such as the number of appointments for these therapies, their cost, and reimbursement patterns; and to compare these findings with a published profile of the general public.


An interview gauging patients' interest in and use of alternative treatments followed by 2 questionnaires concerning (1) mental adjustment to the cancer experience and (2) personal growth in response to the encounter with cancer.


Suburban breast cancer clinic in a Midwestern university medical center.


112 female breast cancer outpatients.


Rankings of interest in and use of alternative treatments by the patients interviewed.


The 3 most frequently used alternative therapies were prayer (76%), exercise (38%), and spiritual healing (29%). Comparison with the general public profiles revealed that breast cancer patients more frequently used 17 specific alternative therapies. The largest increases were found in the use of prayer (51% increase), spiritual healing (25% increase), and megavitamins (23% increase). Only chiropractic was used substantially more often among the general population.


Breast cancer outpatients involved in conventional treatment are more likely to use a wide range of alternative therapies than is the general public. It is likely that the mortality and morbidity associated with breast cancer motivates this increased use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center