Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is now a significant practice issue for those delivering cancer care with a range of CAM being utilized by a significant number of patients with cancer. While various studies have explored the prevalence of CAM use among cancer patients, little is currently known about naturopathy/herbalism use by patients with cancer in Australia. This paper reports the prevalence of naturopath/herbalist consultations among mid-aged Australian women with cancer. The research was conducted as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, with the data for this analysis coming from the third survey of 11 202 women aged 50-55, conducted in 2001. For all cancers combined, 15.7% of women with cancer were found to consult a naturopath/herbalist. Mid-aged women with cancer were found to be more likely to consult a naturopath/herbalist than mid-aged women without cancer. Naturopathy/herbalism consultations appear to be utilized by the women with cancer alongside and as a supplement to conventional health services. Given the prevalence of consultations with herbal therapists/naturopaths among mid-aged women with cancer in Australia, it is important that physicians and others involved in cancer patient care and management are informed and educated about naturopathy/herbalism and its use among their patients.
European Journal of Cancer Care Vol. 14, no. 5, p. 443-447