Why people choose to not use complementary therapies during cancer treatment: A focus group study

Lisa Beatty, B Koczwara, Vikki Knott, T Wade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


While 50% of cancer patients use complementary therapies (CT) during treatment, few studies have examined why individuals choose not to use CT. This study aimed to address this gap in knowledge using a focus group methodology, where 36 participants took part in one of eight groups; participants were recruited until saturation of themes was achieved. Three categories of participants were investigated: patients/recent survivors (n = 14); volunteers/advocates (n = 16), the majority of whom were also long-term survivors; and health professionals (n = 6). Focus groups were digitally audio-recorded, transcribed, and coded thematically using NVivo software. Reasons for non-use fell into four broad themes: (1) Resource barriers, particularly the cost and lack of time; (2) fear and distrust, including the potential for drug interactions; (3) lack of evidence, including the unproven nature of many CT practices; and (4) satisfaction with conventional treatment. Two further themes related to the benefits of non-use and reasons for discontinuation. A sub-analysis indicated that reasons for non-use differed by CT category, with non-use being mentioned more frequently for biologically based and body-based therapies. Differences in understanding CT non-use emerged between patients, volunteers and health professionals. Findings have clinical implications regarding tailoring information for patients during and after cancer
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-106
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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