Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is defined as a diverse group of medical systems, practices and products that are usually used as an adjunct to conventional treatment. Reasons for CAM use by cancer patients are: cure of disease, control of symptoms or boosting of immunity. Our healthcare system provides limited assistance to cancer patients who seek CAM treatment. This is usually due to lack of information, limited experience and education concerning CAM.
To study knowledge, attitudes and practices of Healthcare Professionals (HCP) towards CAM use in cancer care in Qatar.
This study was performed as a descriptive cross-sectional trial using an anonymous survey of a sample of 231 randomly chosen health care professionals working in the National Center for Cancer Care and Research (NCCCR) in Qatar. A semi-structured novel 17-item questionnaire was administered to the 231 health care professionals.
Our study showed that 12% of respondents never heard about CAM. However, 92% of HCP were interested in CAM education opportunities. Herbal medicine was the most familiar type of CAM among HCP (48%), followed by vitamins and minerals (37%), acupuncture (34%), massage (33%), nutritional therapy (32%), Yoga (29%) and spiritual healing (27%). Some types of CAM therapy were less familiar such as music therapy (23%) homeopathy (18%), aromatherapy (16%), hypnosis (15%) and art therapy (14%). The majority of HCP thought that CAM therapy improves patient’s psychological and emotional well-being (66%), quality of life (48%) and helps to relieve symptoms of disease (27%).
There is a need for increased knowledge of HCP at NCCCR about CAM given their vital role in the overall management of cancer patients. This can be achieved through structured and comprehensive education and training programs. Such plan will ensure a safe and efficacious integration of CAM therapy into cancer care guidelines.