Depression and the use of complementary medicine among breast cancer patients

Support Care Cancer. 2005 May;13(5):339-42. doi: 10.1007/s00520-004-0709-z. Epub 2004 Nov 12.


This was a cross-sectional study to examine the association between anxiety, depression and quality of life and the use of complementary and alternative medicine. Anxiety and depression was measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and quality of life was measured using the global quality of life subscale selected from the European Organization for Treatment and Research of Cancer (EORTC) quality of life core questionnaire (QLQ-C30). In all, 177 breast cancer patients were studied, and 32% (n=57) reported that they used or were using complementary medicine. Users and nonusers did not differ significantly in almost all variables studied, with the exception of duration of their diagnosis. The most commonly used complementary medicine was prayer and spiritual healing (n=45, 73.8% of responses). Performing the logistic regression analysis controlling for age, marital status, educational level, knowledge of diagnosis, time since diagnosis, global quality of life, depression, and anxiety scores, the results indicated that the use of complementary medicine among breast cancer patients was associated with sever depression (odds ratio 2.49, 95% CI 1.06-5.89, P 0.04). The other variables studied did not show any significant results. The study findings confirm that the use of complementary medicine is more common among depressed breast cancer patients and might be a marker of greater psychological distress in this group of patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / complications
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iran / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life