Impact of a complementary/integrative medicine program on the need for supportive cancer care-related medications

Ilanit Shalom-Sharabi, Noah Samuels, Efraim Lev, Ofer Lavie, Lital Keinan-Boker, Elad Schiff, Eran Ben-Arye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Despite the growing evidence supporting the use of complementary/integrative medicine (CIM) in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced toxicities, little is known on CIM impact of these therapies regarding the use of medications for supportive cancer care. In this study, we examined the impact of CIM on the need for supportive cancer care-related medications. Patients and methods: Patients with breast or gynecological cancer referred to and attending an integrative physician (IP) consultation for gastrointestinal (GI) concerns were designated as the treatment group; those not attending as controls. Adherence to the integrative care program (AIC) was defined as attending ≥4 CIM interventions. The need for conventional supportive care-related medications and doses was determined from patients’ medical files, as well as the implications on the potential for cost reduction. Results: Of the 205 patients diagnosed with GI concerns, 116 attended the IP consultation and weekly CIM treatments (56.6%; treatment group), of which 85 (73.3%) were adherent to the program (AIC subgroup); 89 did not undergo an IP consultation (43.4%; controls). Within-group analysis found a greater decrease in the use of non-opioid analgesics (NOAs) at 6 weeks in the treatment group (P = 0.01), more so in the AIC subgroup (P = 0.02). A cost analysis suggests that reduced NOA use in the treatment group reduced the cost of supportive care, covering 27.1% of the overall expense of CIM treatments. Controls were less likely to require anti-emetics (P = 0.007). Between-group analysis showed a trend for reduced use of anxiolytics (P = 0.06) and NOAs (P = 0.08) among treated patients, with lower dose equivalents for NOAs than controls (P < 0.001). Conclusion: CIM treatments may reduce the need for NOAs among patients with breast or gynecological cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3181-3190
Number of pages10
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Ms. Ronit Leiba for her assistance in the statistical analysis. EBA and ISS organized the trial and collected the data analyzed in this study. ISS, EBA, NS, EL, OL, LKB, and ES planned the study. ISS, EBA, and NS carried out the analysis and wrote a draft manuscript. All authors participated in the revision of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Chemotherapy
  • Complementary medicine
  • Integrative medicine
  • Medication use
  • Supportive care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of a complementary/integrative medicine program on the need for supportive cancer care-related medications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this