Use of alternative therapy among pediatric oncology patients in Taiwan

Chao Hsing Yeh, Jia Ling Tsai, Wenjun Li, Hui Me Chen, Shu Chu Lee, Chiou Fen Lin, Chao Ping Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Both alternative medicine and western medicine have been commonly used to treat pediatric cancer patients in Taiwan. Each has its own intrinsic strengths and weaknesses and they can be complementary. Little is known about medical help-seeking behaviors of parents of pediatric cancer patients, especially those related to alternative therapies. This study investigated the extent and parental expectations on use of alternative therapies. All primary caregivers of 63 eligible patients were interviewed. Use of alternative therapies, regardless of education level or social status of their families, is prevalent (n=46, 73%) in Taiwan. Commonly used alternative therapies included, in order of popularity, formulated functional food (n=22, 48%), temple worship/shamanism (n=19, 40%), traditional Chinese medicine (n=9, 20%), secret recipes/herbs (n=13, 28%), and diet supplements (n=9, 19%). Such practices generally occur without medical guidance from oncologists, largely because of poor interactions between parents and oncologists. Future efforts should be made to encourage both parents and oncologists to discuss this issue. Nurses may serve as mediators developing mutual trust and a sharing relationship between these groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-65
Number of pages11
JournalPediatric Hematology and Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Alternative therapy
  • Medical help-seeking behavior
  • Oncology
  • Pediatric patient

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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