Sex differences in motives for use of complementary and alternative medicine among cancer patients

Monique M. Hedderson, Ruth E. Patterson, Marian L. Neuhouser, Stephen M. Schwartz, Deborah J. Bowen, Leanna J. Standish, Lynn M. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Context • There is evidence that the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is increasing especially among women. However, little is known about why there are sex differences in the use of CAM. Objective • This study investigated sex differences in motivations for use of CAM among adult cancer patients. Design • A population-based telephone survey of CAM use. Settings and Participants: 178 male and 178 female cancer patients randomly selected from a statewide Cancer Surveillance System in Washington State. Main Outcome Measures • Demographics, complementary and alternative medicine use, lifestyle changes and four psychosocial variables: desire for personal control; internal locus of control; symptom distress; and perceived health status. Results • Overall, 81.5% of women and 59.0% of men used some type of CAM. After adjusting for age and income, the relative odds that an alternative therapy user was female was 2.2 (95% CI 1.4-3.3) for alternative dietary supplements, 5.0 (95% CI 2.3-11.2) for categories of alternative providers, 2.2 (95% CI 1.2-4.2) for focused mental therapies and 1.4 (95% CI 0.9-2.2) for lifestyle changes. CAM use was positively associated with desire for personal control among both men and women (P=0.05). However, the association of two factors, dissatisfaction with a conventional provider and cancer-related symptom distress with alternative dietary supplement use, was only modestly different for men and women (P < 0.10 for interaction). High cancer related symptom distress score and dissatisfaction with a conventional provider predicted increased dietary supplement use for men, but decreased dietary supplement use for women. Conclusions • Clinicians should be aware that men and women differ considerably in their use of CAM, which may reflect differences in their psychological needs as they cope with their cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-64
Number of pages7
JournalAlternative therapies in health and medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Sex differences in motives for use of complementary and alternative medicine among cancer patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this