The varied contribution of significant others to Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) uptake by men with cancer: A qualitative analysis

Nadja Klafke, Jaklin A. Eliott, Ian N. Olver, Gary A. Wittert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To explore how men's Significant Others (SOs), including family members and close friends, contribute to the uptake and maintenance of specific CAM therapies. Methods: This study was the second, qualitative phase of a mixed-methods project investigating the use of CAM in an Australian male cancer population. Male participants were purposefully selected from a pool of 403 patients who answered a survey in the first quantitative phase (94% response rate and 86% consent rate for follow-up interview). Then semi-structured interviews among 26 men with a variety of cancers and 24 SOs were conducted. All 43 interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analysed thematically. Results: Men used CAM/Natural products to cope with physical concerns, and this was actively supported by men's SOs who contributed to the uptake and maintenance of these CAMs. The shared CAM preparation and consumption functioned to strengthen the bond between men and their SOs, and also helped men's SOs to cope with uncertainty and regain control. In contrast, men practiced CAM/Mind-body medicine to receive emotional benefits, and only rarely shared this practice with their SOs, indicating a need for coping with emotions in a private way. Conclusions: Men's CAM use is a multifaceted process that can be better understood by considering CAM categories separately. CAM/Natural products help men to cope with physical concerns, while CAM/Mind-body medicine assist men to cope with their emotions in a private way. Oncology professionals can use this information to better promote and implement integrative cancer care services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-336
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jun 2014


  • Caregiver
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
  • Family
  • Gendered health issues
  • Integrative cancer care
  • Men
  • Posttraumatic growth
  • Psycho-social care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)

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