Perceptions of Health Care Providers about Integrative Breast Cancer Care: A Pilot Study

Complementary therapies are a diverse set of treatment approaches that fall outside of mainstream medicine. The majority of cancer patients – especially those with breast cancer – use a form of complementary therapies. While there is growing evidence that some of these therapies can contribute to effective cancer care, their use has not become part of standard cancer care. Patients often research complementary care options and investigate ways of integrating them in their treatment plan, without discussing these approaches with conventional health care providers. This can lead to poorly integrated care, which raises concerns about potential toxicities, adverse reactions and patients engaging in therapies with little therapeutic value. Alison Brazier is researching health care providers’ perceptions of the factors that either serve as barriers or facilitate an integrative approach to breast cancer care. Alison is conducting a series of in-depth qualitative interviews with health care providers and women living with breast cancer in four Canadian cities. She is also developing a survey instrument, to be used in a large national survey, which examines the attitudes and knowledge of complementary and conventional health care providers about integrative cancer care. The results of this study are aimed to enable a more integrative approach to cancer care in Canada that provides safer, more effective and more comprehensive cancer care.