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Why cancer patients choose in-patient complementary therapy in palliative care: a qualitative study at Arokhayasala Hospice in Thailand

Poonthananiwatkul, B., Howard, R. L., Williamson, E. M. and Lim, R. H. (2016) Why cancer patients choose in-patient complementary therapy in palliative care: a qualitative study at Arokhayasala Hospice in Thailand. European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 8 (3). pp. 260-265. ISSN 1876-3820

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.eujim.2016.02.002


Cancer patients often choose complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in palliative care, often in addition to conventional treatment and without medical advice or approval. Herbal medicines (HM) are the most commonly used type of CAM, but rarely available on an in-patient basis for palliative care. The motivations which lead very ill patients to travel far to receive such therapies are not clear. A qualitative study was therefore carried out to investigate influences on choosing to attend a CAM herbal hospice, to identify cancer patients’ main concerns about end-of-life care. Semi-structured interviews with 32 patients were conducted and analysed using thematic analysis. Patients were recruited from Arokhayasala, a Buddhist cancer hospice in Thailand which provides CAM, in the form of HM, a restricted diet, Thai yoga, deep-breathing exercises, meditation, chanting, Dhamma, laughter and music therapy, free-of-charge. The main factors influencing decision-making were a positive attitude towards HMs and previous use of them, dissatisfaction with conventional treatment, the home environment and their relationships with hospital doctors. Patients’ own perceptions and experiences were more important in making the decision to use CAM, and especially HM, in palliative cancer care than referral by healthcare professionals or scientific evidence of efficacy. Patients were prepared to travel far and live away from home to receive such care, especially as it was cost-free. In view of patients’ previously stated satisfaction with the regime at the Arokhayasala, these findings may be relevant to the provision of in-patient cancer palliative care to other patients.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > School of Pharmacy > Pharmacy Practice Research Group
ID Code:54990
Uncontrolled Keywords:Hospice Cancer Arokhayasala Khampramong In-patient complementary and alternative medicine Herbal medicines

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