The use of complementary medicine in palliative care in France: an observational cross-sectional study

Abstract

Purpose

Palliative care for cancer deals with physical, psychosocial, and spiritual issues faced by cancer patients, their families, communities, and healthcare providers. Research on complementary medicine (CM) use in France is limited despite high rates of reported CM use in other countries including by palliative patients. This study describes the use of CM by individuals receiving palliative care in Lyon, France.

Design

This study employed an observational cross-sectional survey design.

Setting/participants

The study was conducted in three palliative care centers in Lyon, France; two tertiary hospitals and one palliative care unit (3 sites). Inpatients and outpatients visiting the palliative care clinic with a primary diagnosis of cancer at each study site were invited to participate.

Results

Of 138 eligible patients, 100 completed the survey (RR 72.4%). The majority (90.7%) reported using CM in the previous 6 months or since their primary cancer diagnosis. Participant CM use was either the same (20.7%) or increased since their primary cancer diagnosis (33.7%). Average out-of-pocket expenses associated with CM use in the previous 6 months or since diagnosis were €157.40 (SD €330.15). The most common CM health professional visited was an aromatherapist (72.7%), a Coupeurs de feu (38.6%), osteopath (28.6%) and naturopath (15.3%). The most common CM used were aromatherapy oils (33.7%), homeopathy (30.0%), and vitamins (29.4%).

Conclusion

This second survey on CM use in France; is the first conducted in palliative care centers. Results show people with cancer in Lyon, France, have a very high prevalence of CM utilization.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the clinical staff at Lyon Sud and Lyon Nord and the palliative care unit at the Red Cross for their valuable contribution to this study.

Availability of data and material

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

JS, HD, and AS contributed to the conception, study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation, and drafting of the manuscript. MF and PJP contributed to the conception, study design, data interpretation, drafting, and critical revision of the paper. JBM was engaged in data collection, interpretation of data, and critical revision of the paper. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Amie Steel.

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate

All the data were handled according to the guidelines set out in the Declaration of Helsinki, and ethical approval to conduct the study was obtained from the [redacted for blinded review]. The participants were informed that participation was voluntary and that they could discontinue their participation at any time. They were also informed that the data collected would be treated confidentially throughout the study. Written informed consent was obtained from all the participants.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Additional information

Key statements

What is already known about the topic?

• Complementary medicine (CM) is used by 10–40% of cancer patients in Europe

• Only one single site study in France has explored CM use in cancer patients, reporting a rate of 34%

What this paper adds

• The majority (90.7%) of palliative patients in Lyon, France, use complementary medicine

• Palliative patients using CM more commonly consult with a CM practitioner (86.2%) than use a CM product (64.8%)

Implications for practice, theory, or policy

• The high rate of CM use by palliative patients in France requires an urgent examination of the clinical effectiveness and safety of the CMs being used

• CM literacy among palliative doctors and other health professionals in France must be reviewed to ensure it meets the information needs of patients in their care

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Cite this article

Filbet, M., Schloss, J., Maret, JB. et al. The use of complementary medicine in palliative care in France: an observational cross-sectional study. Support Care Cancer 28, 4405–4412 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-020-05296-1

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Keywords

  • Palliative care
  • Complementary therapies
  • France
  • Health services