1. Ihlenfeld, Janet T. PhD, RN

Article Content

Fletcher PC, Clarke J. The use of complementary and alternative medicine among pediatric patients. Cancer Nurs. 2004;27(2):93-99.


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is used in many ways in healthcare. This study looked at the use of CAM by parents of children with cancer. Twenty-nine (N = 29) parents whose children had been diagnosed with cancer during the prior 5 years were interviewed about CAM as part of a larger study about parents of children with cancer. All of the parents resided in Ontario, Canada, and had been very involved in their child's care.


The parents were interviewed by a mother of a child with cancer so that the parents would be more relaxed in answering questions. The interview was open-ended and contained questions about the use of CAM for each child. The qualitative data were subsequently transcribed and analyzed. Findings revealed 3 distinct themes:


1. Parents who were against CAM therapy


2. Parents who gave CAM to their child


3. The viewpoints about CAM by the physicians of each child



In each of the areas, the views were varied. However, the major findings were that some parents wanted their child's chemotherapy treatment to continue according to the recommendations of the oncologists; one third of the parents did use CAM with their children (including juices, chiropractic or homeopathic therapy, art therapy, Reiki, or meditation) along with the chemotherapy, and parents were concerned that their physicians knew about CAM even if it was not utilized.


The researchers found that parents were sometimes fearful of using CAM because of the lack of established protocols or research regarding the CAM therapies. Future research needs to focus on whether CAM therapies are beneficial for children with cancer.