The perceptions and experiences of osteopathic treatment among cancer patients in palliative care: a qualitative study

Support Care Cancer. 2018 Oct;26(10):3627-3633. doi: 10.1007/s00520-018-4233-y. Epub 2018 May 4.


Purpose: This research aimed to explore the perceptions and experiences of cancer patients receiving osteopathic treatment as a complementary therapy when it is used in addition to conventional treatment for cancer pain.

Methods: This qualitative study employed semi structured interviews of cancer patients in a palliative care unit in Lyon, France, who received treatment from an osteopath alongside their conventional cancer treatment. We analysed data using grounded theory and qualitative methods.

Results: We interviewed 16 patients. The themes identified through the analysis included a low awareness of osteopathy among the population and an accompanying high level of misconceptions. The benefits of osteopathy were described as more than just the manual treatments with participants valuing osteopathy as a holistic, meditative, and non-pharmaceutical approach. Participants also described the osteopathic treatments as assisting with a range of cancer-related health complaints such as pain, fatigue, and sleep problems. Offering osteopathic treatment at an accessible location at low or no cost were identified by participants as enablers to the continued use of osteopathy.

Conclusions: The findings of this study provides preliminary data which suggests, when delivered alongside existing medical care, osteopathy may have health benefits for patients with complex conditions such as cancer.

Keywords: Cancer pain; Osteopathy; Palliative care; Qualitative study; Symptom control.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Osteopathic Medicine* / methods
  • Osteopathic Medicine* / standards
  • Osteopathic Physicians / psychology
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / psychology
  • Pain Management* / methods
  • Pain Management* / psychology
  • Pain Management* / statistics & numerical data
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • Perception*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires