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Cancer survivors’ perspectives and experience on western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine treatment and rehabilitation: a qualitative study

Authors Wang JW, Yang ZQ, Liu C, Chen SJ, Shen Q, Zhang TR, Partike NS, Yuan ZP, Yu JM

Received 29 October 2014

Accepted for publication 2 December 2014

Published 18 December 2014 Volume 2015:9 Pages 9—16

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S76617

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Ji-Wei Wang,1 Zhi-Qi Yang,1 Cong Liu,1 Si-Jia Chen,1 Qian Shen,1 Tian-Rui Zhang,1 Nancy S Partike,2 Zheng-Ping Yuan,3 Jin-Ming Yu1

1School of Public Health, Key Laboratory of Public Health Safety, Fudan University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China; 2School of Public Health, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, USA; 3Shanghai Cancer Rehabilitation Club, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China


Background: In the People’s Republic of China, both western medicine (WM) and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) are the main treatment and rehabilitation options for cancer patients. This study aimed to explore cancer survivors’ perspectives and experience of treatment and rehabilitation, in order to promote patient-centered activities of treatment and rehabilitation.
Methods: Using a qualitative research approach, 68 cancer survivors were recruited from eight community cancer rehabilitation organizations in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China. Eight focus group interviews were conducted. All these interviews were transcribed verbatim, and the data were analyzed by theme analysis.
Results: WM was the main choice in treatment phase though study participants noted more side effects. TCM was primarily used in the recovery phase. The lack of communication between doctors and cancer patients appears to affect treatment adherence and impair the doctor–patient relationship. WM was expensive for diagnostic procedures and treatment, while the cumulative costs of frequent use of TCM in the long rehabilitation period were also high. Both treatment options created significant perceived economic burden on patients. Conflicting information about dietary supplements tended to make cancer survivors confused.
Conclusion: Improving the communication between doctors and cancer patients helps to ameliorate cancer patient adherence and the effect of treatments. It is essential to educate cancer patients about the effect and cost of both WM and traditional TCM. Meanwhile, marketing management and guidance to consumers regarding use of dietary supplements in the cancer rehabilitation field are also necessary.

Keywords: preference, adherence, cancer survivor education, focus group interview

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