Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Complementary medicine visits by palliative care patients: a cross-sectional survey


Background The paucity of empirical research examining complementary medicine (CM) use in palliative care in France compared with other countries results in a gap in scientific knowledge. This study aims to describe the frequency and the cause of palliative care patients consulting with a CM clinician along with the conventional physicians.

Methods This study is an observational cross-sectional survey conducted in three palliative care centres in Lyon, France, between July 2017 and May 2018: two tertiary hospitals and one palliative care unit in a private hospital. Inpatients and outpatients visiting the palliative care clinics with a primary diagnosis of cancer were invited to participate in the study. Using a 19-item paper-based survey instrument, we collected data on the participants’ personal characteristics, health service utilisation and attitudes towards CM.

Results From the 138 participants meeting the inclusion criteria, 100 (72.4%) were included in the study. On average, they were 62.9 years old (SD 12.4) and the majority were women (60%). The primary cancer site was mostly colorectal (29.0%), breast (15.0%) and gynaecological (11.0%). The most commonly visited CM clinician was the aromatherapist (72.7%), recording more than six consultations (78.1%) for symptom management (21.9%). Visits to an osteopath were reported by 28.6% of patients, and 45.8% of osteopathy users reported visiting an osteopath more than six times for symptom management (62.5%). Participants visiting a naturopath (15.3%) reported less than four visits and indicated symptom management as the most common reason (76.9%).

Conclusions Our findings show a substantial proportion of palliative care patients visit CM clinicians and primarily seek symptom management from CM clinical care.

  • complementary therapy
  • cancer
  • communication
  • supportive care

Data availability statement

No data are available. The ethical clearance for this study did not permit data sharing.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.