Complementary therapy support in cancer survivorship: a survey of complementary and alternative medicine practitioners' provision and perception of skills

Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2014 Mar;23(2):180-8. doi: 10.1111/ecc.12099. Epub 2013 Jul 16.


This study reviewed the confidence and perceived skills of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners in providing care and symptom management for clients post cancer. An e-survey was mailed to approximately 21, 000 CAM practitioners, targeted at those working with clients who were experiencing consequences of cancer and its treatments. Questions were asked about the main symptoms and concerns of clients, the confidence and current skill levels of practitioners and additional training requirements. Six hundred and twelve practitioners responded to the survey, 507 of whom were working with individuals experiencing the consequences of cancer and its treatments. Forty-five per cent (n = 134) had undertaken training in cancer prior to working with cancer patients, 61% (n = 182) had undertaken courses or study days relative to cancer care in the past two years. The most often treated symptoms or concerns of patients were those of a psychosocial nature, pain management and lymphoedema. CAM practitioners with limited knowledge and training are providing support to cancer survivors, particularly in services where the National Health Service has limited provision. CAM practitioners may fulfil a future role in providing long-term support for cancer survivors; however, in order to properly safeguard patients they are in need of further training and development.

Keywords: cancer; complementary and alternative medicine; education; evaluation; supportive care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aromatherapy / standards
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Complementary Therapies / education
  • Complementary Therapies / standards*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / standards*
  • Humans
  • Lymphedema / therapy
  • Male
  • Massage / education
  • Massage / standards
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Pain Management / standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors / psychology
  • Therapeutic Touch / standards
  • Young Adult