Shopping for nutrition-based complementary and alternative medicine on the internet

How much money might cancer patients be spending online?

Mohammad Anas Alsawaf, Aminah Jatoi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background. How much money might cancer patients be spending on-line for nutrition-based complementary and alternative medicine therapies? This question is relevant because over $34 billion per year is spent on complementary and alternative medicine in the United States, and the Internet has facilitated the acquisition of such therapies. Methods. We therefore conducted a "patient simulation exercise" in which the Internet was surfed for nutrition-based therapies, which were touted as therapeutic or palliative in the cancer setting. Monthly costs for each agent were calculated. Agents with clinical evidence of efficacy were excluded. Results. A search of 2,500 Web sites and related pages revealed a total of 16 different products. The monthly cost of each ranged from to $4-33 to $263.00. The median cost of a single agent was $27.00 per month. Conclusions. This study emphasizes the need for health care providers to undertake with cancer patients a comprehensive discussion of therapeutic options - including those relevant to nutrition-based complementary and alternative medicine. A compassionate discussion of patients' out-of-pocket costs should be an integral part of that discussion and should be emphasized as an important dimension of patient education efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-176
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Volume22
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007

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Complementary Therapies
Internet
Neoplasms
Costs and Cost Analysis
Patient Simulation
Nutrition Therapy
Patient Education
Health Expenditures
Health Personnel
Therapeutics
Exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

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title = "Shopping for nutrition-based complementary and alternative medicine on the internet: How much money might cancer patients be spending online?",
abstract = "Background. How much money might cancer patients be spending on-line for nutrition-based complementary and alternative medicine therapies? This question is relevant because over $34 billion per year is spent on complementary and alternative medicine in the United States, and the Internet has facilitated the acquisition of such therapies. Methods. We therefore conducted a {"}patient simulation exercise{"} in which the Internet was surfed for nutrition-based therapies, which were touted as therapeutic or palliative in the cancer setting. Monthly costs for each agent were calculated. Agents with clinical evidence of efficacy were excluded. Results. A search of 2,500 Web sites and related pages revealed a total of 16 different products. The monthly cost of each ranged from to $4-33 to $263.00. The median cost of a single agent was $27.00 per month. Conclusions. This study emphasizes the need for health care providers to undertake with cancer patients a comprehensive discussion of therapeutic options - including those relevant to nutrition-based complementary and alternative medicine. A compassionate discussion of patients' out-of-pocket costs should be an integral part of that discussion and should be emphasized as an important dimension of patient education efforts.",
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