Religiosity is associated with the use of complementary medical therapies by pediatric oncology patients

J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2003 Feb;25(2):125-9. doi: 10.1097/00043426-200302000-00008.


Purpose: To determine the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in pediatric oncology patients, the types of CAM used, and the factors associated with the use of CAM.

Patients and methods: A questionnaire regarding CAM use was administered to patients/families seen in the pediatric oncology clinic at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center over a 12-month period.

Results: Based on 195 completed questionnaires, 91 (47%) patients reported use of CAM since diagnosis. Among CAM users, the most commonly used CAM therapies were faith healing, megavitamins/minerals, massage, other dietary supplements, relaxation techniques, and herbal medicines/teas. Forty-one percent of CAM users had not discussed CAM use with their physician(s). In bivariate analysis, CAM use was not associated with age at the time of survey, time since diagnosis, sex, race, parental education, or family income. A trend was noted between CAM use and older age at diagnosis. Families who reported themselves to be "very" religious were more likely to use CAM than those that are "somewhat" or "not at all" religious.

Conclusions: Use of CAM is common among pediatric oncology patients and often is not discussed with the treating physician(s). Patients from very religious families are more likely to use CAM.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • North Carolina
  • Religion*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States