Researchers from the College of Nursing, Wayne State University in Detroit looked at who uses CAM practices (Complementary & Alternative medicine or the preferred term these days: Integrative Medicine) among survivors in the U.S. cancer population.
The study used the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), with a sample of 2,262 adults (aged 18 years and older) diagnosed with cancer, representing more than 14.3 million cancer survivors in the United States .

NHIS interview data on the use of CAM practices (diet, yoga, tai chi, qigong, meditation, guided imagery, relaxation, and deep breathing) were examined in relationship to gender, age, education, race, provider contact, cancer diagnosis, pain, insomnia, fatigue, depression, and health status.

The study found that CAM practice use was more prevalent among female, middle-aged, Caucasian, and well-educated subjects.  Twenty-six percent of women used them, compared to 13.7 % of men.   Pain, depression, and insomnia were strong predictors of practice use.  Men were more likely than women to try special diets and qigong.  Women were more likely to use deep breathing, meditation, relaxation, guided imagery, yoga, and tai chi.
The investigators conclude that CAM practices are widely used by the U.S. cancer population, especially women. Symptom experience influences likelihood of use, with the odds increasing for men when they report symptoms. The authors recommend that oncology nurses integrate self-care CAM practices into standard care, to help with symptom management.
Citation: Fouladbakhsh JM, Stommel M. Gender, symptom experience, and use of complementary and alternative medicine practices among cancer survivors in the U.S. cancer population. Oncology Nursing Forum. 2010 Jan; 37 (1):E7-15. [email protected]