Background: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has received increasing attention in Western countries and is especially common among breast cancer (BC) patients. So far, its effectiveness has not been well studied, which is in part due to the contextuality of CAM along with a lack of information of why patients use it. Objectives: Young BC patients constitute a special patient group regarding clinical characteristics, QOL, and their role in society. Since little is known about their CAM use, this study aimed at exploring it as well as their reasons for CAM use. Methods: Data on CAM and sociodemographics were collected via questionnaire in the context of a rehabilitation program for young mothers with BC. Initial BC diagnoses were between 2009 and 2014 (recruitment period 2012-2015). Clinical characteristics were derived from the patient files. Descriptive statistics were used to describe frequencies and statistically significant differences were tested. Results: Among the 827 patients, with an average age of 39.6 years, 62.5% had used CAM with regard to their cancer. CAM use was significantly higher in women with higher educational level, higher employment status, and statutory health insurance, respectively. The average monthly expenses on CAM were EUR 50. Every 5th woman used CAM without her physician's knowledge. The types most often used were dietary supplements with vitamins or minerals. The most frequent reasons for CAM use were to strengthen the immune system, support conventional medicine, and combat side effects. Conclusions: CAM plays an important role for young BC patients with regard to prevalence and monthly expenses, and was used for a wide range of reasons. Certain subgroups with more frequent CAM use could be identified. Physicians should therefore proactively talk about CAM with their young BC patients, so that patients do not need to rely on information sources on CAM outside the medical system.
Research Areas and Centers
- Research Area: Center for Population Medicine and Public Health (ZBV)