WHAT Cancer Patients Need According to Health Professionals' Perceptions

Monday, July 14, 2014: 9:00 PM
Room: F204
Distributed Paper
Pamela SIEGEL , Collective Health, State University of Campinas (Unicamp), Brazil
Nelson BARROS , Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor, Campinas, Brazil


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in cancer care has been increasing during the last decades. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the perceptions of the health professionals on the application of non-orthodox practices to cancer patients. The oncology unit in a Brazilian hospital has 47 people in the staff: administrative personnel, physicians, nurses, psychologists, nutritionists, social assistants and pharmacologists. Semi-structured interviews were performed with 32 out of 47 staff members to find out what they think of the application of CAM to cancer patients. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and analyzed, according to thematic analysis. The majority of the team's interviewed members are: women, single and catholic; age ranges: 23 to 64; members of the staff for two months to 20 years and the biggest category is that of physicians. Most of the interviewees were in favor of applying CAM to the cancer patients; a minority said they liked the idea but saw no way of implementing it inside the oncology unit; one physician proclaimed CAM was charlatanism and one psychologist said she didn’t believe in it; almost half of them agreed that patients need other things, especially when doctors arrive at a stage in which there is nothing else they can do, and out of these, physicians and nurses were the majority, with one nutritionist, one psychologist and one administrative technician supporting them. In conclusion, physicians were the majority in both groups: within the one that is in favor of applying CAM to cancer patients as well as in the smaller one that believes CAM would be difficult to uphold or should be offered outside the unit. A positive usage for CAM would be in palliative care.

Key words: CAM, Integrative medicine, cancer in Brazil, palliative care