A prospective study of the use of alternative therapies by men with localized prostate cancer

Suzanne K. Steginga, Stefano Occhipinti, R. A. Gardiner, John Yaxley, Peter Heathcote

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Although the use of alternative therapies is highly prevalent amongst men with prostate cancer, research about the predictors of such use is limited. The current study aimed to describe prospectively the use of alternative therapies by men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer and identify predictors of alternative therapy use. In all, 111 men newly diagnosed with localized prostate cancer (93% response) were recruited to the study prior to treatment. Men's use of alternative therapies and psychological variables including: psychological distress, orientation to health care, decisional conflict, and health locus of control, were assessed at three time points - (1) before treatment; (2) 2 months after completion of treatment; and (3) 12 months after completion of treatment. Demographic information was also obtained. The percentage of men using alternative therapies was 25, 17 and 14% before treatment, 2 and 12 months after treatment, respectively. In general, the most commonly used therapies were dietary changes, vitamins and herbal and nutrient remedies. Alternative therapy use was not related to final treatment choices. Before treatment, men who used alternative therapies were more uncertain about prostate cancer compared to men who were not using these therapies. Men who were using alternative therapies 12 months after treatment were less psychologically distressed that men who were not using these therapies. Health locus of control and orientation to health care were not found to be related to men's use of alternative therapies. In conclusion, men's use of alternative therapies after localized prostate cancer varied across time in terms of the incidence of use, the types of therapies used, and the psychological correlates of therapy use. Informational support that targets uncertainty about prostate cancer may assist men at diagnosis who are considering alternative therapy use. The potential for alternative therapies to have a supportive function in patient care requires further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-77
Number of pages8
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004


  • Alternative therapies
  • Prostate cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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