Traditional Indigenous medicine and complementary medicine use amongst Indigenous cancer patients in Queensland, Australia

Jon Adams, Gail Garvey, Christina Bernardes, Alex Broom, Patricia Valery

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstract


Cancer is thesecond leading cause of death amongst Indigenous Australians representing 18%of all deaths for this group. A wide range of practices, treatments andapproaches to health and illness – including both complementary medicine (CAM)and traditional Indigenous medicine (TM) – are available and used by cancerpatients but are not historically associated with the medical profession, orpublically funded health services. Little is known about CAM and TM use amongstIndigenous cancer patients.

Aims: To describe TM/CAM use amongst Indigenous cancer patients.

Methods: Cross‐sectional study of Indigenous cancer patients (252)receiving or recently completed treatment in one of four Queensland hospitals.Using a structured questionnaire, patients were asked about theirsocio‐demographic characteristics, previous and current cancer treatment, andaccess to community or allied health services for support with their cancer.Cancer details were obtained through medical chart review.

Results: 18.7% of patients reported utilisation of at least one TM/CAMfor their cancer, including use of traditional Indigenous therapy (2.8%), CAM(10.7%), visiting a traditional Indigenous practitioner (2.8%), a CAMpractitioner (2.4%), and attending relaxation/meditation classes (4.0%). Havinga higher education was positively associated with CAM practitionerconsultations (p = 0.015). Women with breast cancer were more likely to attendrelaxation/meditation classes (p = 0.019). Men with genital organ cancer weremore likely to use traditional Indigenous therapies (p = 0.017) and/or CAM(p = 0.002).

Conclusion: A substantial percentage of Indigenous Australiansreported the use of TM/CAM with regards to their cancer. There is a need tofurther examine this topic. Those providing and managing conventional cancercare and services for Indigenous Australians should be cognisant of the need toenquire with their patients regarding use of TM/CAM in efforts to provide safe,effective and culturally‐sensitive care and support.

Original languageEnglish
Article number159
Pages (from-to)106-106
Number of pages1
JournalAsia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology
Issue numberS3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
EventCOSA's 40th Annual Scientific Meeting: Cancer Care Coming of Age - Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 12 Nov 201314 Nov 2013
Conference number: 40


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