Integration of complementary and alternative medicine into cancer-specific supportive care programs in Australia: A scoping study

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Journal Article
Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2017, 13 (1), pp. 6 - 12
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© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd Aim: The main aim of this research was to describe the availability and integration of supportive care programs (SCPs), particularly complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) services, for adults in Australian oncology treatment centers. Methods: We systematically searched 124 Australian hospitals listed as having an oncology department out of a total of 1157 hospitals listed in the Australian Hospitals and Aged Care Databases (2014), and assessed their website and relevant leaflets. Direct contact was made with a relevant staff member in each hospital. Data were collected regarding the range of SCP and CAM services available. Results: Of the 124 hospitals, 89 (72%) provide nonspecific guidance to SCP or a staff member (e.g. social worker or care coordinator) who directs patients, advising them about SCP; 35 hospitals (28%) provide active referral to SCP, of which 24 of 35 (69%) include CAM in their service, with individual variation in how it is incorporated. Only 11 (46%) of these 24 CAM incorporated oncology centers in Australia provided systematically integrated CAM programs. Conclusion: The majority of Australian oncology departments do not have CAM incorporated into their services. In those that do, less than half had systemically integrated CAM. The types of CAM available, how they are accessed and how they are integrated varied across hospitals. Further research is required to understand how to successfully and systematically integrate cancer-specific supportive care such as CAM into Australian cancer services.
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