Skip to main content

Advancing supportive oncology care via collaboration between psycho-oncology and integrative medicine

Abstract

Purpose

As survival after cancer diagnosis increases, patients are increasingly turning toward integrative therapies (e.g., yoga, acupuncture, massage) to manage acute and chronic concerns related to cancer treatment and survivorship. As such, integrative medicine programs devoted to combining conventional Western cancer care with complementary treatments such as yoga, acupuncture, botanicals, and homeopathy are increasingly common in cancer communities around the world. However, few integrative medicine programs have included psycho-oncology providers in order to systematically evaluate and treat psychological and behavioral health factors affecting adjustment to cancer.

Methods

A pilot program was initiated at a large academic medical center to explore benefits of a collaborative clinic visit conducted with psycho-oncology and integrative medicine within an existing supportive oncology clinic. Collaborative medical and psychological interventions were provided to enhance patient quality of life and reduce symptom burden.

Results

Forty-nine patients were seen via the dyadic consultation model. Sixty-eight percent of patients rated their emotional distress at or above clinical cutoffs, indicating unmet supportive care needs. The majority of patients seen were White, non-Hispanic, and female.

Conclusions

Many cancer patients and survivors report persistent emotional distress and chronic physical problems associated with their diagnosis and treatment. The types of patients seen in this pilot program raise concern about ongoing inequalities in access to integrative medicine and psycho-oncology services, which may contribute to downstream health disparities and poorer clinical outcomes. Future directions will explore billing practices, financial sustainability, and methods to increase access to this type of program for demographically diverse individuals across cancer populations.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. 1.

    Horneber M, Bueschel G, Dennert G, Less D, Ritter E, Zwahlen M (2012) How many cancer patients use complementary and alternative medicine: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Integr Cancer Ther 11(3):187–203

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Snyderman R, Weil AT (2002) Integrative medicine: bringing medicine back to its roots. Arch Intern Med 162:395–397

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Yun H, Sun, Lingyun S, Mao JJ (2017) Growth of Integrative Medicine at leading cancer centers between 2009 and 2016: A systematic analysis of NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center websites. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr 2017(52):29–32

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Witt CM, Balneaves LG, Cardoso MJ, Cohen L, Greenlee H, Johnstone P, Kucuk O, Mailman J, Mao JJ (2017) A comprehensive definition for integrative oncology. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr 2017(52):3–8

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Engel GL (1977) The need for a new medical model: a challenge for biomedicine. Science 196(4286):129–136

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    National Comprehensive Cancer Network. (2018). NCCN Distress Thermometer and Problem List. Retrieved from: https://www.nccn.org/about/permissions/thermometer.aspx. Access 23 April 2019

  7. 7.

    Rozensky RH, Pereira DB, & Whitehead NE (2016). Health psychology assessment. In J.C. Norcross, G.R. VandenBos, & D.K. Freedheim (Eds.), APA Handbook of Clinical Psychology, Volume III. Clinical Psychology: Applications and Methods. Washington, DC: APA Publishing

  8. 8.

    Clark TC, Black LI, Stussman BJ, Barnes PM, Nahin RL (2015). Trends in the use of complementary health approaches among adults: United States, 2002-2012. National Health Statistics Reports; no 79. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Deidre B. Pereira.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kacel, E.L., Pereira, D.B. & Estores, I.M. Advancing supportive oncology care via collaboration between psycho-oncology and integrative medicine. Support Care Cancer 27, 3175–3178 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-019-04840-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Psycho-oncology
  • Supportive oncology
  • Integrative medicine
  • Integrative therapies