Is a biopsychosocial-spiritual approach relevant to cancer treatment? A study of patients and oncology staff members on issues of complementary medicine and spirituality

Support Care Cancer. 2006 Feb;14(2):147-52. doi: 10.1007/s00520-005-0866-8. Epub 2005 Aug 16.


Background: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasingly being used by patients with cancer.

Objectives: Our aim is to compare the attitudes of cancer patients who use CAM to those of nonusers, on issues of CAM, biopsychosocial considerations, and spiritual needs.

Methods: Questionnaires were administered to patients and medical care providers in a tertiary teaching hospital with a comprehensive cancer center.

Results: Forty-nine percent of the study patients reported integrating CAM into their conventional care. Health care providers considered psychological and spiritual needs as major reasons for CAM use, while patients considered the familial-social aspect to be more important.

Conclusions: Cancer patients do not correlate CAM use with spiritual concerns but expect their physicians to attend to spiritual themes. Health care providers involved in oncology cancer care should emphasize spiritual as well as CAM themes. The integration of these themes into a biopsychosocial-spiritual approach may enrich the dialogue between patients and health providers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Hospitals, Teaching / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Spirituality*