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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 182475, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/182475
Research Article

The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine by Korean Breast Cancer Women: Is It Associated with Severity of Symptoms?

1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Hanyang University, College of Medicine, 222 Wangsimni-ro, Seongdong-gu, Seoul 04763, Republic of Korea
2Institute of Health Services Management, Hanyang University, 222 Wangsimni-ro, Seongdong-gu, Seoul 04763, Republic of Korea
3Department of Global Health and Department of Preventive Medicine, Hanyang University, College of Medicine, 222 Wangsimni-ro, Seongdong-gu, Seoul 04763, Republic of Korea

Received 3 July 2015; Accepted 22 November 2015

Academic Editor: Pradeep Visen

Copyright © 2015 Jung Hye Hwang 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.

Abstract

Background. Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among patients with breast cancer could be associated with severity of the cancer symptoms experienced, but there is little evidence to prove this. This study tried to investigate any difference in the severity of breast cancer symptoms between CAM users and nonusers. Methods. The study followed cross-sectional design using structured survey questionnaire. Survey participants were recruited from four different healthcare settings in Seoul, South Korea. The survey instrument comprised 39 items including questions on demographics, use of CAM, and six main symptoms associated with breast cancer and cancer treatment. Results. Out of 288 participants, 67% stated using one or more modalities of CAM. Age, education, and time duration since diagnosis of cancer were significantly associated with use of CAM. About 90% of the CAM users experienced side effects of cancer treatment. CAM users reported more severe anxiety and skin/hair changes than nonusers. Conclusions. CAM was used by those breast cancer patients who experience more severe symptoms to alleviate the conditions associated with breast cancer and cancer treatment. Our findings revealed motivation behind the CAM use, which has profound implications for clinicians to recognize patient-perceived needs.