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The Association between Mental Distress and the Use of Alternative Medicine among Cancer Patients in North Norway

T. Risberg and B. K. Jacobsen
Quality of Life Research
Vol. 12, No. 5 (Aug., 2003), pp. 539-544
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4038079
Page Count: 6
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The Association between Mental Distress and the Use of Alternative Medicine among Cancer Patients in North Norway
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Abstract

Purpose of the study: To study the association between mental distress and the use of alternative medicine (AM) among cancer patients. Patients and methods: A longitudinal questionnaire-based study was carried out at the Department of Oncology, University Hospital of Tromsø, Norway, during the period 1990-1991. The level of mental distress in 158 patients aged less than 75 years was assessed 4 months after first admission to the cancer ward. The patients answered five questions about mental distress selected from the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). The questions were scored continuously according to the Likert scoring procedure. The level of mental distress was also ranked from 1 (little or no mental distress) to 3 (high mental distress). Results: A total of 53 of the 158 patients reported use of AM at inclusion of the study or during the 4 months of follow-up. Among patients with low mental distress, 21% were users of AM, 36% of patients with medium distress and 48% in patients with high level of mental distress (p-value for linear trend = 0.02). Adjusted for all known relevant variables, patients with medium level of mental distress had 1.9 times higher prevalence of use of AM than patients with low level of mental distress, patients with high mental distress had a 2.9 times higher prevalence (p = 0.15 and 0.07, respectively). Analyzed as a continuous variable (Likert score between 5 and 20), mental distress was associated with use of AM (p = 0.007). Conclusion: These findings suggest that seeking alternative treatment is more common among mentally distressed cancer patients.

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