Potential problems of integrating complementary therapies into cancer care

Peter White

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The number of complementary therapies being offered by oncology services in the treatment of cancer patients is increasing. However, many conventional practitioners remain undecided and sceptical about their benefits and value as a cancer management tool. This paper will consider the potential conflict of interests which may occur between conventional and complementary practitioners. Methods: A review of the current literature in this area of healthcare, and a documentary analysis of the present ethico-legal issues, was carried out. Data were also collected from English case law, Statutes and Statutory instruments, i.e. legal precedents, Acts of Parliament and relevant regulations arising from them. The use of complementary therapies within the oncology service was identified by means of a questionnaire and a review of the recent literature on that theme. Results: Thirty-eight oncology departments in England and Wales presently offer at least one method of complementary therapy in the management of cancer patients. The majority of these therapies are practised in-house by employees within the NHS. Potential conflict of interests may occur in relation to ethico-legal issues such as medical negligence, consent, confidentiality, access to medical records and territorialism, where a balance needs to be found between patient autonomy and medical paternalism. Conclusions: Conflict of interests between various practitioners in the health service must be minimized and this may be achieved by making complementary therapies more acceptable to the conventional practitioner. State registration and more scientific research are two suggested methods to facilitate bridging this divide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-278
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998


  • Cancer management
  • Conflict of interests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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