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Prevalence of traditional Chinese medicine and other complementary and alternative medicine use among Chinese cancer patients in British Columbia, Canada



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Purpose: Little is known about the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in ethnic populations with cancer living in Canada. The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence and predictors of TCM/CAM use in newly diagnosed Chinese cancer patients who were starting cancer treatments. Patients and Methods: A consecutive sample of newly diagnosed Chinese cancer patients treated at the British Columbia Cancer Agency over a four month period was surveyed. During admission, the study questionnaire was distributed along with other registration forms and anonymously returned in well-labeled boxes. A bilingual Chinese interpreter was available to answer any questions potential participants might have had. The 15-item questionnaire focused on TCM/CAM use, socio-demographics, and medical and cultural factors. Results: Ninety-one patients completed the questionnaire. The majority of respondents (90%) were born outside of Canada and 64% completed the questionnaire in Chinese. TCM/CAM was used by 44% of respondents. Herbal remedies, vitamins/minerals, and prayer were the most commonly used therapies. In the bivariate analysis, factors predicting TCM/CAM use were prior TCM/CAM use (p < 0.001), having received chemo/radiotherapy (p = 0.021), female sex (p = 0.015), immigrant status (p = 0.040), and reporting a non-official language most frequently used at home (p = 0.018). Following multivariate analysis, it was found that prior CAM use (p < 0.001), lower income (p = 0.043), and immigrant status (p = 0.030) were associated with TCM/CAM use. Conclusion: TCM/CAM use in newly diagnosed Chinese cancer patients is very common and results are comparable to previous studies in other populations. Healthcare practitioners must become aware of the widespread use of CAM and engage discussions about CAM use with their patients, especially those of a specific ethno-cultural group who may be less acculturated to Western society.



Prevalence, Acculturation, Neoplasms, Complementary Therapies, Asian Continental Ancestry Group



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Community Health and Epidemiology


Community Health and Epidemiology


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