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Integr Cancer Ther. 2018 Jun;17(2):380-387. doi: 10.1177/1534735416666372. Epub 2016 Sep 01.

Information and Training Needs Regarding Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Cross-sectional Study of Cancer Care Providers in Germany.

Integrative cancer therapies

Gudrun E Klein, Corina Guethlin


  1. 1 Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

PMID: 27585628 PMCID: PMC6041920 DOI: 10.1177/1534735416666372


BACKGROUND: Among cancer care providers (CCPs), lack of knowledge constitutes an important barrier to the discussion of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use with patients. This study assessed CCPs' needs and preferences regarding CAM information and training (I&T).

METHODS: An online survey was completed by 209 general practitioners, 437 medical specialists, 159 oncology nurses and medical assistants, and 244 psychologists and social workers engaged in cancer care. Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to identify subgroups of individuals with distinct preference patterns regarding I&T content.

RESULTS: CCPs prefer CAM I&T to be provided as lectures, information platforms on the internet, workshops, and e-mail newsletters. Concerning subject matters, many CCPs considered CAM therapy options for the treatment of a variety of cancer disease- and therapy-related symptoms to be very important (75%-72% of the sample); the same applies to an "overview of different CAM therapies" (74%). LCA identified 5 latent classes (LCs) of CCPs. All of them attached considerable importance to "medical indication," "potential side effects," and "tips for usage." LCs differed, however, in terms of overall importance ratings, the perceived importance of "patients' reasons" for using specific CAM therapies, "case examples," and "scientific evidence." Notably, the 5 LCs were clearly present in all 4 occupational groups.

CONCLUSIONS: CAM I&T should provide CCPs with an overview of different CAM therapies and show how CAM might help in treating symptoms cancer patients frequently demonstrate (eg, fatigue). Moreover, I&T programs should be flexible and take into account that individual information needs vary even within the same occupational group.

Keywords: cancer care; cancer care providers; complementary and alternative medicine; continuing education; information needs; training


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