Medical Oncology

, 30:511 | Cite as

Integrating complementary medicine in supportive cancer care models across four continents

  • Eran Ben-Arye
  • Elad Schiff
  • Catherine Zollman
  • Peter Heusser
  • Pablo Mountford
  • Moshe Frenkel
  • Gil Bar-Sela
  • Ofer Lavie
Review Article


The need to integrate complementary medicine (CM) consultation in supportive care of patients with cancer is acknowledged by oncologists owing to the ongoing research on CM efficacy and awareness of its potential risks. In this article, we aim to provide oncologists with models for CM integration within supportive care. Descriptive analysis of key elements which facilitate CM integration is presented by physicians leading six integrative cancer care programs across four continents. Perspectives of integration are supplemented by a literature review, quantitative data on the clinical activity in each center, and qualitative narrative-based citations of seven oncology patients and healthcare providers. It is recommended that CM consultation be provided by physicians with extensive CM training. The following key elements were identified as essential for integrative program design within oncological supportive care: (1) Location of the integrative physician (IP) room within the oncology department area, (2) Required oncologist referral to CM consultation, (3) Allocated time to IP-oncologist communication, (4) Research-based integrative practice, (5) Inclusion of paid professional CM practitioners, (6) Institutional cost covered service. Integration of CM consultation within oncological supportive care needs to take in account six key elements that ensure high-quality evidence-based concomitant integrative practice.


Supportive care Integrative medicine Complementary medicine Breast Cancer Doctor–patient communication Quality of life 



The article is a follow-up to the UK-Israeli CAM-Integrative Medicine workshop that was held at Bnai-Zion Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, with the support of the Israeli Society for Complementary Medicine, the UK College of Medicine, Bnai Zion Medical Center, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Lin Medical Center of Clalit health services, and the Academic Study Group for Israel and the Middle East.

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eran Ben-Arye
    • 1
    • 2
  • Elad Schiff
    • 3
  • Catherine Zollman
    • 4
  • Peter Heusser
    • 5
  • Pablo Mountford
    • 6
  • Moshe Frenkel
    • 7
  • Gil Bar-Sela
    • 8
  • Ofer Lavie
    • 9
  1. 1.Integrative Oncology Program, The Oncology Service, Lin Medical CenterClalit Health ServicesHaifa, Western GalileeIsrael
  2. 2.Complementary and Traditional Medicine Unit, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of MedicineTechnion-Israel Institute of TechnologyHaifaIsrael
  3. 3.Department of Internal MedicineBnai-Zion Medical CenterHaifaIsrael
  4. 4.Penny Brohn Cancer CareBristolUK
  5. 5.Center for Integrative MedicineUniversity of Witten/HerdeckeWittenGermany
  6. 6.Fundaleu InstituteBuenos AiresArgentina
  7. 7.Integrative Medicine ProgramThe University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  8. 8.Department of Oncology and Radiation TherapyRambam Health Care CampusHaifaIsrael
  9. 9.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Gynecologic Oncology ServiceCarmel Medical CenterHaifaIsrael

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