The kitchen as therapy: qualitative assessment of an integrative cuisine workshop for patients undergoing chemotherapy

Eran Ben-Arye*, Yael Keshet, Inbar Miller Shahbar, Michal Livne Aharonson, Liora Preis, Olga Agour, Elad Schiff, Noah Samuels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: Patients undergoing chemotherapy frequently suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and functional difficulties in preparing and eating meals. We conducted a qualitative assessment of an integrative cuisine workshop program designed for patients receiving chemotherapy, examining the effects of the program on patient-reported GI symptoms and nutritional challenges. Patients and methods: Patients were referred to a complementary/integrative medicine (CIM)-trained physician for consultation, followed by a patient-tailored treatment program. Patients with GI-related symptoms and nutritional concerns were offered a two-session integrative cuisine workshop program. The effects of the workshops were examined using inductive and deductive qualitative research methodologies. Patient narratives, as recorded in the Measure Yourself Concerns and Wellbeing (MYCAW) study tool, and electronic medical files were analyzed. Results: Of 125 patients referred to the integrative cuisine program, 86 participated in at least one workshop. Participants and non-participants had similar demographic and disease-related characteristics, as well as quality-of-life (QOL)-related concerns. Inductive analysis suggested that participation in the workshops was helpful in developing social relationships, providing emotional support, and enhancing spirituality and nutritional awareness. Implementing the recommended changes at home led to improved QOL-related outcomes. The predominant themes derived from deductive analysis were the implementation of dietary changes and improved gastrointestinal and emotional issues. Conclusions: Chemotherapy-treated patients participating in an integrative cuisine workshop program showed improved QOL outcomes, specifically GI and emotional-related symptoms, and a reduction in nutritional and functional concerns. Increased knowledge and awareness of nutrition and supplement use ultimately resulted in implementation of the CIM recommendations by patients at home.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1487-1495
Number of pages9
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Israel Cancer Society
Lin Medical Center, Haifa, Israel


    • Chemotherapy
    • Herbal medicine
    • Integrative medicine
    • Nutrition
    • Quality-of-life (QOL)


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