Use of alternative therapy among pediatric oncology patients in Taiwan

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Child; Child, Preschool; *Complementary Therapies; Humans; Neoplasms; Taiwan; Treatment Outcome


Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Oncology | Pediatrics


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 by developing mutual trust and a sharing relationship between these groups.

DOI of Published Version



Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2000 Jan-Feb;17(1):55-65. doi:10.1080/088800100276668

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Pediatric hematology and oncology


At the time of publication, Wenjun Li was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID