Expectations of Patients and Their Informal Caregivers from an Integrative Oncology Consultation

Noah Samuels, Menachem Oberbaum, Eran Ben-Arye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Integrative physicians (IPs) working in supportive and palliative care are often consulted about the use of herbal medicine for disease-related outcomes. We examined 150 electronic files of oncology patients referred to an IP consultation for demographic and cancer-related data; use of herbal medicine for disease-related outcomes; and narratives of patients and informal caregivers describing their expectations from the IP consultation. Over half (51.3%) of patients reported using herbal medicine for disease-related outcomes, more so among those adopting dietary changes for this goal (P <.005). Most (53.3%) were accompanied by an informal caregiver, especially those using herbal medicine (66.2%, P =.002) or adopting dietary changes (69.8%, P <.001). The majority of patients (84.4%) expected the IP to provide guidance on the use of herbal medicine for disease-related outcomes (e.g., “curing,” “shrinking,” “eradicating” and “cleansing”). Most caregivers (88.8%) expressed a similar expectation, with some having additional questions not mentioned by the patient. IPs need to identify and understand expectations of oncology patients and their informal caregivers, helping them make informed decisions on the effective and safe use of herbal medicine. The IP may need to “reframe” expectations regarding the ability of herbal medicine to treat cancer and immunity, to more realistic quality of life-focused goals.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIntegrative Cancer Therapies
Volume20
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • expectations
  • herbal medicine
  • informal caregivers
  • integrative oncology
  • integrative physician
  • reframing

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