Background: Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in chronic disease conditions is increasing. A holistic approach for cancer treatment is the need of the day.
Objectives: 1) To explore knowledge, attitude and practices of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among cancer patients attending an allopathic health facility. 2) To investigate some epidemiological correlates of CAM use among cancer patients.
Methods: hospital-based cross-sectional pilot study among cancer patients attending Radiotherapy OPD of a tertiary health care facility in Chandigarh, North India.
Results: Survey of 140 (69 male and 71 females) cancer patients included 64.3 % from rural and 35.7% from urban background. Among all patients surveyed, 68 (48.6%) have already undergone Radiotherapy, 67% Chemotherapy and 37 (26.4%) surgery. Overall Awareness of CAM was reported by 111 (79.3%) patients and about 19% patients reported ayurvedic treatment as CAM currently/ sometimes in the past. Patients were aware of Ayurveda (74.3%) followed by Naturopathy (73.6%) and Homeopathy (63.6%) as CAM therapies. Other CAM methods practiced included Unani, Sidha, Laughter therapy, Yoga meditation and spiritual healing Spiritual Healings etc. Closure of CAM towards nature (61.4%) and easy availability (57.9%) were among main opinions of patients in favour of CAM use.
Conclusions and Suggestions: CAM use among cancer patients is prevalent irrespective of their socio-demographic characteristics. CAM therapies should not be blindly ignored without testing their efficacy on scientific basis. Detailed studies on CAM use by cancer patients should be conducted for better understanding and evaluation of holistic approach for care of cancer patients in Indian set-up.