Complementary alternative treatments used by patients with cancer in eastern Turkey

Cancer Nurs. 2003 Jun;26(3):230-6. doi: 10.1097/00002820-200306000-00010.


Interest in complementary-alternative medicine therapies is growing rapidly in Turkey. Therefore, the purpose of this research was to determine the types and prevalence of alternative therapies used by the patients with a diagnosis of cancer, and to determine factors influencing the choices of their therapies in Erzurum, Turkey. Approximately 10-minute face-to-face interviews were conducted with each subject in the radiation oncology department. The factors associated with the use of alternative therapies after a diagnosis of cancer were assessed by chi-square analysis. The findings indicated that complementary-alternative medicine therapies were used by 41.1% of the subjects after their diagnosis, and that all of the alternatives they used were herbs. The most commonly used herb was stinging nettle leaf (urtica dioica) or seed of nettle. Almost all (93.2%) of the herbs used were nettle. In general, especially the women and the younger patients of both genders were more likely to be using alternative therapies. There was no difference in demographic and cancer characteristics between users of alternative therapy and nonusers. More than the half of the patients using alternative therapies (54.5%) reportedly did not discuss the use of herbs with their healthcare professionals. Most of the patients using stinging nettle and other herbs therapies reported that they had heard about the use of herbs from friends or relatives (52.3%), or from the other patients in this clinic (43.2%). This study found that there is a high prevalence of alternative therapies used by patients with cancer in eastern Turkey. The use of these alternative therapies requires that nursing professionals rethink staff competency, patient assessment, and patient-focused care. Communication between patients and healthcare professionals should initiate dialogues on this topic for a better understanding of patient choices with regard to treatment options.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Phytotherapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Turkey
  • Urtica dioica