Prevalence and characteristics of complementary medicine used by pediatric cancer patients in a mixed western and middle-eastern population

J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2006 Mar;28(3):141-6. doi: 10.1097/01.mph.0000210404.74427.10.


Complementary alternative medicine (CAM) usage and physicians' attitude was evaluated by interviewing all 100 pediatric cancer patients' parents and adolescents seen in the last half of 2003 at Meyer Children's Hospital in Israel. Sixty-one percent of the patients used CAM, an average of 3 different treatments per patient. CAM use was higher: among parents having previous CAM experience (85% vs. 51%, P=0.001) and higher education (79% vs. 50%, P=0.024), and in nonreligious families (71% vs. 50%). Jews and Arabs had similar CAM use rates as with different types of therapies. Socioeconomic status does not affect the rate of CAM use (P=0.9) but does affect the type of treatments used: patients of the higher socioeconomic level mainly used chemi-biological remedies and homeopathy (24% and 28% of interviewees; P=0.002). Middle or lower socioeconomic patients mostly used traditional Arab treatments (32% and 54%, respectively; P=0.012). Only 36% discussed it with their physicians, and most discussions were initiated by parents (79%). Beneficial effect was reported by 69% of CAM users. Most interviewees were interested in getting CAM information and availability in the hospital. Most pediatric cancer patients, regardless of their ethnic origin, use CAM without informing their physicians. Physicians should be aware and know more about it, to be advisors for better integrated care.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arabs / statistics & numerical data
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Child
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Jews / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle East
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Prevalence
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antineoplastic Agents