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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 301549, 16 pages
Research Article

Use of Self-Care and Practitioner-Based Forms of Complementary and Alternative Medicine before and after a Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

1Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 722 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA
2Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, 2101 McGavran-Greenberg Hall, CB No. 7435 Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA
3Department of Nutrition, Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, 2200 McGavran-Greenberg Hall, CB No. 7461 Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA
4Department of Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 17 E 102nd Street, New York, NY 10029, USA
5Department of Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, 722 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA

Received 17 April 2013; Revised 21 June 2013; Accepted 7 July 2013

Academic Editor: Holger Cramer

Copyright © 2013 Alissa R. Link et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Purpose. We examine factors associated with self-care, use of practitioner-based complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and their timing in a cohort of women with breast cancer. Methods. Study participants were women with breast cancer who participated in the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project. Self-care is defined as the use of multivitamins, single vitamins, botanicals, other dietary supplements, mind-body practices, special diets, support groups, and prayer. Within each modality, study participants were categorized as continuous users (before and after diagnosis), starters (only after diagnosis), quitters (only before diagnosis), or never users. Multivariable logistic regression was used for the main analyses. Results. Of 764 women who provided complete data, 513 (67.2%) initiated a new form of self-care following breast cancer diagnosis. The most popular modalities were those that are ingestible, and they were commonly used in combination. The strongest predictor of continuous use of one type of self-care was continuous use of other types of self-care. Healthy behaviors, including high fruit/vegetable intake and exercise, were more strongly associated with continuously using self-care than starting self-care after diagnosis. Conclusions. Breast cancer diagnosis was associated with subsequent behavioral changes, and the majority of women undertook new forms of self-care after diagnosis. Few women discontinued use of modalities they used prior to diagnosis.