Expected and perceived efficacy of complementary and alternative medicine: A comparison views of patients with cancer and oncologists

Sang Hyuck Kim, Dong Wook Shin, You Seon Nam, So Young Kim, Hyung kook Yang, Be Long Cho, Keeho Park, Heui Sug Jo, Chang Yeol Yim, Sin Kam, Jong Hyock Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Background & aims This study sought to identify discrepancies between the expectations of patients with cancer and oncologists regarding the efficacy of complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs), and to determine how patients evaluate CAM efficacy after its use. Methods Data from the Cancer Patient Experience Study, a nationwide survey, were used. Seven subdivided efficacy domains were included in the survey. An oncologist-patient matching analysis was done to assess the concordance of CAM efficacies between oncologists and patients with cancer. In addition, the patients’ expectations of CAM efficacies were compared before and after use. Results Out of 719 participants, 201 patients with cancer (28.0%) reported using CAMs. The patients with cancer generally tended to be more positive about CAM efficacies than the oncologists. The largest discrepancy in efficacy perception was found in the efficacy domain of survival benefit, which included complete disease remission and prolonged survival. Many patients reported that they did not experience the positive efficacy they had anticipated before use. However, a substantial proportion of patients indicated that CAMs were as effective as they had expected, even though there is little evidence supporting the CAM efficacies. Conclusions There was a marked discrepancy and a lack of concordance in expectations of CAM efficacy between patients with cancer and oncologists. Better communication between the patients and oncologists regarding CAM efficacy would be needed to make the patients to have shared expectations, and to reduce unnecessary CAM use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Cancer patient
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Discrepancy
  • Efficacy
  • Oncologist

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