Being in touch: narrative assessment of patients receiving online integrative oncology treatments during COVID-19

Eran Ben-Arye*, Yael Keshet, Orit Gressel, Yehudit Tapiro, Ofer Lavie, Noah Samuels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: We examined the qualitative impact of an online integrative oncology (IO) treatment program, designed in response to the restrictions created by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Patients undergoing chemotherapy were seen by an integrative physician (IP), together co-designing an IO treatment program of ≥ 6 weekly treatments to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life (QoL). IO practitioners guided patients and their caregivers online in self-treatment with manual/touch, movement, and/or mind-body modalities. Narratives of both patients and IO practitioners were analyzed for systematic coding, identifying barriers and advantages of the online treatment program. Results: Narratives obtained from 30 patients and eight IO-trained practitioners were examined. The patients had undergone 169 online IO sessions with a total of 327 IO interventions during the 3-month study period. Patient narratives included reflections on both non-specific effects (e.g., less of a “sense of isolation”) and specific QoL-related outcomes with the online intervention. IO practitioner narratives focused on barriers to providing manual-movement and mind-body modalities, suggesting practical recommendations on how to address specific QoL-related outcomes using the online IO “toolbox.” Conclusions: Effective online IO practitioner-guided treatments are feasible and may induce both specific and non-specific QoL-related effects. Future research needs to explore online IO interventions for additional situations in which access to IO care is limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4819-4825
Number of pages7
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Continuity of care
  • Integrative oncology
  • Palliative care
  • Quality of life
  • Telemedicine


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