Health-Care Providers' and Parents' Perspectives on Complementary Alternative Medicine in Children with Cancer in Indonesia

  • Susilawati, Dwi (Department of Psychology, Dr Sardjito Hospital, Gadjah Mada University) ;
  • Sitaresmi, Mei (Department of Social Pediatrics, Dr Sardjito Hospital, Gadjah Mada University) ;
  • Handayani, Krisna (Department of Pediatric Oncology-Hematology, Dr Sardjito Hospital, Gadjah Mada University) ;
  • Ven, Peter van de (Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, VU University Medical Center) ;
  • Sutaryo, Sutaryo (Department of Pediatric Oncology-Hematology, Dr Sardjito Hospital, Gadjah Mada University) ;
  • Kaspers, Gertjan (Department of Pediatric Oncology-Hematology, VU University Medical Center) ;
  • Mostert, Saskia (Department of Pediatric Oncology-Hematology, VU University Medical Center)
  • Published : 2016.07.01


Background: Complementary alternative medicine (CAM) use in children with cancer is widespread. Health-care providers (HCP) need to acknowledge and address this need. This study explored and compared perspectives on CAM of HCP and parents of young patients with cancer in Indonesia. Materials and Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study using semi-structured questionnaires in HCP and parents of childhood cancer patients at an Indonesian academic hospital. Results: A total of 351 respondents participated: 175 HCP (response rate 80%) and 176 parents (response rate 80%). Parents were more likely than HCP to think that chemotherapy can cure cancer (80% compared to 69%, P=0.013). Nearly half of all parents (46%) and HCP (45%) doubted whether CAM can cure cancer. Parents were more likely than HCP to think that CAM can be helpful in childhood cancer treatment (54% compared to 35%, P=0.003). The most recommended CAM by HCP was self-prayer (93%). Reasons for recommending CAM were: hope for improvement of the child's condition (48%), patient wants to stop treatment (42%). Most discouraged CAM by HCP was by old-smart people (70%), the reasons being: lack of evidence for usefulness (77%), lack of CAM knowledge (75%). The proportion thinking that patients were unlikely to raise the CAM topic if they perceived that doctors were skeptical was higher in parents than in HCP (52% versus 1%) (P<0.001). Most HCP (71%) and parents (77%) acknowledged that their knowledge about safety and efficacy of CAM was inadequate (P=ns). The proportion that wanted to learn or read more about CAM was higher among parents than HCP (48% compared to 31%, P=0.002). Conclusions: HCP and parents have different perspectives on CAM use in children with cancer. HCP should enhance their CAM knowledge and encourage open communication about CAM with parents. If doctors' skepticism is perceived, parents are unlikely to raise CAM as a topic.


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