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Women with breast cancer decided whether to use complementary/alternative medicine through a process of discovery and investigation

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QUESTION: What are the experiences of women with breast cancer as they decide whether to use complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) (use of natural healthcare products, such as herbs and nutritional supplements, and the process of seeking advice from non-conventional healthcare professionals, such as homeopaths and acupuncturists)?


Focus groups.


London and Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


36 women (age range 41–73 y) diagnosed with breast cancer at some time in their lives were recruited through notices to regional support groups, cancer centres, health food stores, and pharmacies. Most were white, and middle to upper middle class. They had been diagnosed an average of 5 years before the study (range 8 mo to 15 y). 11 women identified themselves as non-users of CAM and 25 as users.


3 focus groups were held in each site. During the 2 hour audiotaped discussions, women were asked about their perceptions and experiences regarding their use or …

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  • Source of funding: Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative.

  • For correspondence: Dr H Boon, Department of Health Administration, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, 790 Bay Street, Suite 1100, Toronto, Ontario M5C 1N8, Canada. Fax +1 416 946 3147.