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Attitudes and Beliefs towards Disease and Treatment in Patients with Advanced Cancer Using Anthroposophical Medicinevon Rohr E.a · Pampallona S.b · van Wegberg B.a · Cerny T.c · Hürny C.d · Bernhard J.e · Helwig S.f · Heusser P.g
aInstitut für Medizinische Onkologie, Inselspital, Bern; bforMed, Statistics for Medicine, Evolène; cKlinik C, Kantonsspital, St. Gallen; dBürgerspital, St. Gallen; eSIAK Koordinationszentrum, Bern; fLukas Klinik, Arlesheim; gKollegiale Instanz für Komplementärmedizin (KIKOM) der Universität Bern, Schweiz
Background: In Switzerland, anthroposophical medicine has a long tradition, offers a special tumor treatment, is frequently used by cancer patients, and has been approved in 1998 by the Swiss government to be reimbursed by health insurances. This popularity contrasts with the fact that to date no sound evidence of the effectiveness of anthroposophical cancer treatments exists. In this study we draw a profile on a population of patients with advanced disease attending treatment at the anthroposophical Lukas Clinic (LC) regarding patients’ attitudes, experiences and expectations. Patients and Methods: All newly admitted patients with a diagnosis of locally advanced or metastasized breast, gastrointestinal, lung or gynecological cancer were recruited into a registration study. In parallel, a population of patients with the same inclusion criteria attending a conventional institution (Institute of Medical Oncology, University of Bern, IMO) was taken as a reference sample. Data were collected by means of a fully structured interview, and simple descriptive statistics was used for evaluation. Results: 221 and 280 patients accrued at LC and at IMO, respectively. LC patients were mainly women (87%), had a good education (36% with completed college or university education), and were admitted on average 3.5 months after the diagnosis of advanced disease. With respect to their advanced cancer, they put very little hope in the effectiveness of conventional medicine, but expected great help from anthroposophical treatment. Compared with the reference population they cared more for psychological well-being and quality of life, but an important factor for choosing treatment at the LC was clearly the patients’ strong belief in the effectiveness of anthroposophical treatment. Conclusions: With its holistic approach, anthroposophical medicine intends to provide tumor treatment together with supportive care throughout the course of the illness. To some patients this is an attractive alternative to conventional medicine, which too often focuses on tumor treatment only. Conventional medicine should clearly be advised to give higher priority to supportive care already early in the course of the disease. We acknowledge some patients’ need for a more holistic approach, but anthroposophical medicine or any other providers of alternative or complementary cancer therapies should evaluate treatment effectiveness more thoroughly according to the principles of evidence-based medicine.
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