The effect of complementary and alternative medicine on the quality of life of cancer survivors: A systematic review and meta-analyses.

Author: Shneerson C, Taskila T, Gale N, Greenfield S, Chen YF.
Affiliation: University of Birmingham, Room 121, Primary Care Clinical Sciences, Edgbaston Campus, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
Conference/Journal: Complement Ther Med.
Date published: 2013 Aug
Other: Volume ID: 21 , Issue ID: 4 , Pages: 417-29 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.05.003 , Word Count: 251

To assess whether quality of life (QOL) improved in cancer survivors who had undertaken a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) intervention, compared to cancer survivors who had not.
A systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) was undertaken. Electronic databases including MEDLINE, Cochrane CENTRAL, CINAHL, PSYCHINFO, EMBASE, and were searched from 1990 to 2012. Search terms incorporating the concepts of cancer survivors, QOL and various types of CAM were used.
From 1767 records retrieved and screened 13 full text articles were included in the review. Nine studies were deemed to have a high risk, one a low risk, and three an unclear risk of bias. CAM interventions used incorporated yoga, meditation or mindfulness, energy healing, medical qigong, homoeopathy, or mistletoe therapy. Ten of the studies used breast cancer survivors, whilst the remaining three included other cancer types. The studies had mixed results either showing a significantly greater improvement in QOL in the intervention group compared to the control group, or no significant difference between groups. However, twelve studies were of low to moderate quality, limiting the robustness of findings.
This review has identified significant gaps in the evidence base for the effectiveness of CAM on QOL in cancer survivors. Further work in this field needs to adopt more rigorous methodology to help support cancer survivors to actively embrace self-management and effective CAMs, without recommending inappropriate interventions which are of no proven benefit.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Alternative medicine, Cancer survivors, Complementary medicine, Quality of life

PMID: 23876573