National survey of US oncologists' knowledge, attitudes, and practice patterns regarding herb and supplement use by patients with cancer.


Journal Article

PURPOSE: Patients with cancer commonly use complementary and alternative medicine, including herbs and supplements (HS), during cancer treatment. This national survey explored oncologists' knowledge, attitudes, and practice patterns regarding HS use by their patients. METHODS: A survey was sent by mail and e-mail to a random sample of 1,000 members of the American Society for Clinical Oncology. The questions covered several topics: communication patterns, attitudes about HS, education about HS, response to HS use among hypothetical patients with cancer, knowledge of HS adverse effects, and demographic information. RESULTS: Among eligible oncologists, 392 (42%) responded to the questionnaire. Most were white (75%) men (71%), with a mean age of 48 years (standard deviation, 9.8 years). On average, oncologists discussed use of HS with 41% of their patients; only 26% of discussions were initiated by the oncologist. Two of three oncologists indicated they did not have enough knowledge to answer questions from patients regarding HS, and 59% had not received any education about the topic. Physician factors associated with having initiated discussions with patients about the use of HS included female sex, higher self-reported knowledge, prior education about HS, increased knowledge about HS adverse effects and interactions, and estimating that > 40% of one's patients with cancer use HS. CONCLUSION: Fewer than one half of oncologists are initiating discussions with patients about HS use, and many indicate that lack of knowledge and education is a barrier to such discussions. Improving physician education about HS may facilitate more physician-patient communication about this important topic.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lee, RT; Barbo, A; Lopez, G; Melhem-Bertrandt, A; Lin, H; Olopade, OI; Curlin, FA

Published Date

  • December 20, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 32 / 36

Start / End Page

  • 4095 - 4101

PubMed ID

  • 25403205

Pubmed Central ID

  • 25403205

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1527-7755

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1200/JCO.2014.55.8676


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States