A systematic review of integrative oncology programs

Review Article

A systematic review of integrative oncology programs

D.M. Seely , ND MSc , * ,, L.C. Weeks , PhD * , S. Young , MA *

* Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre, Ottawa, ON.
Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Toronto, ON.
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, ON.



This systematic review set out to summarize the research literature describing integrative oncology programs.


Searches were conducted of 9 electronic databases, relevant journals (hand searched), and conference abstracts, and experts were contacted. Two investigators independently screened titles and abstracts for reports describing examples of programs that combine complementary and conventional cancer care. English-, French-, and German-language articles were included, with no date restriction.

From the articles located, descriptive data were extracted according to 6 concepts: description of article, description of clinic, components of care, administrative structure, process of care, and measurable outcomes used.


Of the 29 programs included, most were situated in the United States ( n = 12, 41%) and England ( n = 10, 34%). More than half ( n = 16, 55%) operate within a hospital, and 7 (24%) are community-based. Clients come through patient self-referral ( n = 15, 52%) and by referral from conventional health care providers ( n = 9, 31%) and from cancer agencies ( n = 7, 24%). In 12 programs (41%), conventional care is provided onsite; 7 programs (24%) collaborate with conventional centres to provide integrative care. Programs are supported financially through donations ( n = 10, 34%), cancer agencies or hospitals ( n = 7, 24%), private foundations ( n = 6, 21%), and public funds ( n = 3, 10%). Nearly two thirds of the programs maintain a research ( n = 18, 62%) or evaluation ( n = 15, 52%) program.


The research literature documents a growing number of integrative oncology programs. These programs share a common vision to provide whole-person, patient-centred care, but each program is unique in terms of its structure and operational model.

KEYWORDS: Complementary medicine , cancer , oncology , integrative oncology , integrative medicine , systematic review , health systems


Cancer patients worldwide are increasingly combining complementary health care interventions such as acupuncture, massage therapy, and naturopathic medicine with conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Population-based studies suggest that at least half of all cancer patients use some type of complementary therapy during their experience with cancer15. In parallel with and as a response to that trend, the field of integrative oncology has emerged to ensure that patients have access to evidence-based cancer care that is safe, comprehensive, and patient-centred throughout the cancer spectrum.

The goals of integrative oncology are to reduce the side effects of conventional treatment, to improve cancer symptoms, to enhance emotional health, to improve quality of life, and sometimes to enhance the effect of conventional treatments68. Sagar and Leis describe integrative oncology as both a science and a philosophy that recognizes the complexity of care for cancer patients and that provides a multitude of evidence-based approaches to accompany conventional therapies and to facilitate health9.

In 2009, the Society for Integrative Oncology published practice guidelines, representing evidence-based recommendations for the treatment of common problems encountered by cancer patients6. The guidelines are based on a summary and critical analysis of manuscripts and textbook chapters on complementary and integrative medicine in oncology and have proved useful for health professionals in providing evidence-based and patient-centred advice to individual patients. Practice guidelines are, however, only one part of integrative oncology practice. Integrative practice also requires that a number of interdisciplinary professionals practice alongside each other and, ideally, communicate in nonhierarchical and respectful ways to further the goals of treating the whole person and of promoting health10. This description of integrative practice is an idealized one, and it is more likely that practice models evolve with integration as a goal that is not necessarily achieved. Although it seems reasonable to expect that all integrative oncology practitioners share a common philosophy of patient-centred, whole-person, and evidence-based care, it is unclear how such a philosophy has developed within real-world examples of integrative oncology programs. The literature contains many reports that document examples of integrative oncology practice, and yet that literature has not been reviewed and summarized.

In the same way that practice guidelines have helped to advance the practice of integrative oncology, a summary of the literature describing integrative oncology programs is needed to inform the development of integrative oncology policies, to further develop and refine existing and new programs of care, and to begin conceptualizing the broader infrastructure of integrative oncology practice, education, and research.

Our objective was to use the methods of systematic review to summarize the research literature describing integrative oncology programs. Specifically, we were interested in summarizing elements relevant to the development and operation of an integrative oncology program or centre, including the components of care, administrative structure, process of care, and measurable outcomes used.


We conducted a systematic review of the literature describing integrative oncology programs and centres. We expected a wide range of practice models11, and we therefore did not impose a strict definition of integrative health care. Instead, we searched for articles that described examples of integrative oncology care, based on the provision of complementary care in addition to (and not in opposition to) conventional care. Despite setting broad inclusion criteria for integrative oncology programs, we were careful to distinguish between “complementary” and “alternative” care, reviewing only program descriptions that include complementary therapies in addition to “conventional” care provided by medical doctors, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Complementary therapies represent a diverse set of therapies that are nonsurgical and non-pharmaceutical, but that have known efficacy6. Alternative therapies do not have a scientific foundation and are typically promoted as alternatives to conventional care. Given the requirement for evidence within integrative oncology6,9, programs that provide alternative care were excluded from our review.

The search incorporated a number of methods to identify published articles. We searched the Allied and Complementary Medicine Database, Cochrane Library, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, embase , h ealth star , medline , p re medline , p syc info , and csa Sociological Abstracts from inception through March 2010. The search strategy for medline appears in Appendix A. We hand-searched eight journals from their inception through December 2010 [ Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Current Oncology, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice (formerly Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery ), Alternative Medicine Review, Alternative and Complementary Therapies, Integrative Cancer Therapies, and Journal for the Society of Integrative Oncology ] and hand-searched published abstracts from four complementary and integrative medicine conferences ( Society for Integrative Oncology, North American Research Conference on Complementary and Integrative Medicine, International Congress on Complementary Medicine Research, and Canadian Interdisciplinary Network for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research ). We also sent e-mail messages to 45 experts in integrative oncology, including authors of identified articles, to identify further potentially relevant articles.

Two investigators independently screened all identified titles and abstracts for potential inclusion in the review. Full-text reports of the selected records from the screening phase were obtained and a final assessment for inclusion was made independently by the same two reviewers. To be included, articles had to describe examples of clinics or programs that provide some combination of complementary and conventional cancer care exclusively to any one or a combination of cancer patients, cancer survivors, or people wishing to prevent cancer. Articles documenting general integrative medicine programs, even if cancer patients made up a substantial portion of the client base, and programs that provide only single-agent complementary therapies were excluded. Further, articles had to document original research or describe the process of cancer care. Abstracts for which we could not locate a full-text article were excluded, as were publications in a language other than English, French, or German. Disagreements were resolved by consensus.

Data were extracted according to 6 main concepts and within 88 data elements guided by the key concepts of integrative health care practice as identified and described by Boon et al. 10. The main concepts and data elements included

  • description of the article (for example, author, year of publication, article type);

  • description of the program (for example, name of clinic or program, setting of care, physical characteristics of a centre);

  • components of care (for example, conventional therapies offered, complementary therapies offered, means for practitioner collaboration);

  • administrative structure (for example, charitable status, hospital affiliation, means of cost recovery, process to develop program);

  • process of care (for example, process of initial assessment, process of referral between practitioners, involvement of family members and caregivers); and

  • measurable outcomes used (for example, active research or evaluation programs, or both).

A standardized data extraction form and guidelines were developed and pilot-tested to enhance reliability in data extraction. All data were extracted by one, and verified by a second, investigator. We contacted authors of the included articles to review key elements of the extracted data related to their programs and to supply any missing data. Data were summarized descriptively, using frequencies for categorical data and content analysis for qualitative data12, to generate a list of common categories.

This study was funded by the Lotte and John Hecht Memorial Foundation. The funder had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data and has no right to approve or disapprove publication of a finished manuscript. Because this study did not involve human participants, ethics approval was not required.


We identified 1622 records for screening, and we reviewed 220 full-text manuscripts for potential inclusion. In total, 53 articles describing 29 examples of integrative oncology programs were included in the review (Figure 1). As part of the identification of eligible programs, we sent e-mail messages to 24 individuals affiliated with the programs or centres included in our review for whom we could locate contact information. We asked those individuals to verify the extracted data and to provide missing data. Messages to 5 recipients were undeliverable, and the 19 remaining messages attracted 11 responses. As a result of this process, two programs were excluded as they were clarified to be integrative medicine and not specifically integrative oncology programs.



FIGURE 1 prisma diagram of article flow throughout the systematic review

3.1  Description of Articles

The 53 included articles were published in journals or books specific to complementary therapies ( n = 15, 28%), mainstream oncology ( n = 15, 28%), integrative oncology ( n = 12, 23%), conventional medicine ( n = 8, 15%), social sciences ( n = 2, 4%), and integrative medicine ( n = 1, 2%). Almost half ( n = 24, 45%) had been published in the last 5 years, and 46 (87%) had been published since the year 2000. Most articles ( n = 44, 83%) were descriptive. A smaller number (17%) described research, including evaluation ( n = 5, 55%), qualitative ( n = 3, 33%), and observational ( n = 2, 22%) studies.

3.2  Description of Integrative Oncology Programs

Of the 29 integrative oncology programs included in the review, 12 (41%) operate within the United States, 10 (34%) in England, 3 (10%) in Canada, and 2 (7%) in Germany [location not reported ( nr ) = 2 (7%)]. The described programs were established between 1968 and 2007, with 10 (34%) having been established in the 1990s, 6 (21%) in the 1980s, and 3 (10%) in the 2000s (establishment period nr = 9, 31%). At least 1 program ceased operation after publication: The Geffen Cancer Center and Research Institute closed in 2003, although it continued in a different format as the Seven Levels of Healing program. All but 2 programs operate in urban centres (locale nr = 5, 17%). More than half ( n = 17, 59%) operate within a hospital setting; 7 (24%) are community-based; and 1 operates both within the community and within a U.S. National Cancer Institute–designated Comprehensive Cancer Center (setting nr = 5, 17%).

In 14 programs (48%), treatment is offered to people with any type and any stage of cancer; 2 programs (7%) focus solely on breast cancer (clientele type nr = 13, 45%). Patient access to the programs most commonly comes from self-referral by patients ( n = 16, 55%); referrals from conventional health care providers ( n = 11, 38%), word of mouth ( n = 10, 34%), advertising ( n = 8, 28%), and referrals from a cancer agency ( n = 8, 28%) also account for access. Few data about the physical characteristics of most centres were reported (physical characteristics nr = 20, 69%), but among the 9 programs that reported some aspect of their physical space, that space was most commonly described using such words as “peaceful,” “soothing,” and “natural.” Some features described included natural elements of wood and water, natural lighting, flowers and gardens, or aromatherapy and relaxing music.

3.3  Components of Care

Fewer than half the programs ( n = 12, 41%) provide both complementary and conventional therapies in the same location. Of the remaining programs, 8 (28%) provide complementary therapies at one location and collaborate with conventional oncology centres in other settings to provide an integrative approach to care (therapy locations nr = 9, 31%). Each program incorporates a number of complementary therapies, with mind–body medicine (including meditation, visualization, and relaxation), massage, nutrition counselling, and acupuncture being the most common (Figure 2). The decision to offer specific complementary therapies is most commonly made based on evidence ( n = 12, 41%) and patient demand ( n = 10, 34%). Other reasons include clinical experience ( n = 3, 10%), recommendation from a conventional health care practitioner ( n = 2, 7%), recommendation from a complementary health care practitioner ( n = 1, 3%), availability of practitioners ( n = 1, 3%), and the ability to easily integrate a therapy into a hospital setting ( n = 1, 3%). The stated goals of all the included integrative oncology programs were closely aligned, collectively identifying common principles within the field, such as “whole-person,” “patient-centred,” “collaborative,” “empowerment,” and “evidence-based.” Further, each of the included programs had framed their goals in terms of providing high-quality supportive care alongside, and not in place of, conventional care.



Figure 2 Complementary therapies offered within integrative oncology programs. Other therapies offered within 2 or fewer programs, and not represented in this figure, include dance therapy, herbal medicine, integrative medicine consultations, life coaching, relationship counselling, naturopathic medicine, Pilates, biofeedback, sound therapy, machine therapy, chiropractic, electrochemical therapies, enemas, healing garden, hyperthermia, orthobionomy, physiotherapy, quartz crystal bowls, Tibetan bowls, special baths, and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Of the included programs, 12 (41%) reported that practitioners regularly meet in a formal setting; 5 (17%) reported not meeting formally; and 12 (41%) did not report on this topic. Of the 12 programs that reported regular meetings, those meetings occur at least weekly to discuss individual or complex cases, to develop and coordinate integrative care plans, or to provide updates on patients previously discussed. In 9 of the 12 programs, complementary and conventional care providers both attend the meetings; in 3 programs, only the conventional practitioners attend.

About half the programs ( n = 16, 55%) reported involving family members or caregivers in their integrative program; the remaining 13 programs (45%) reported no data for such involvement. Most programs that involve family members and caregivers offer a package of care to those individuals that is the same as the package offered to patients ( n = 8, 28%); others offer support sessions and psychological interventions ( n = 3, 10%) or a more limited set of therapies ( n = 3, 10%).

Education is often seen as an important component of integrative care, with more than half the programs ( n = 16, 55%) reporting that they offer some element of community outreach or education, most commonly seminars or lectures ( n = 9, 31%) or curriculum for health professionals ( n = 3, 10%). One program described taking advantage of new media technologies, regularly developing and posting blogs and other multimedia entries on their Web site.

In general, few data about the components of integrative care were reported (Figure 3), including whether a primary caregiver is assigned to each patient ( nr = 17, 59%), whether patient charts are shared between members of the integrative care team ( nr = 16, 55%), and whether practitioners are required to hold certain credentials or to meet certain standards ( nr = 18, 62%) or to undergo training specific to cancer ( nr = 12, 41%).



Figure 3 Components of care and organizational structure within integrative oncology programs. nr = not reported.

3.4  Administrative Structure

Although information was scarcely reported for many data elements related to the organizational structure of integrative oncology programs (Figure 3), some elements were fairly well reported. For example, almost two thirds of the programs ( n = 18, 62%) reported having dedicated staff, but little information was reported about the number of full- and part-time staff, job titles, and responsibilities. It is also clear that approaching two thirds of the programs ( n = 17, 59%) maintained a hospital affiliation, with those programs operating within or beside hospitals or cancer centres, or serving as a community affiliate of a local hospital.

About half the programs ( n = 15, 52%) reported some information about the process they followed to develop their organizational structure (process nr = 14, 48%). Strategies varied and seemed to depend on the local environment in which the program would operate and also on the people who were leading the process. Most commonly, a steering committee or subcommittees (or both) were developed to explore issues such as staffing, funding, practice scope, and credentials ( n = 5, 17%). Pilot studies and needs assessments were likewise common ( n = 5, 17%). Other strategies included consultations with health care professionals, cancer patients, and administrative personnel ( n = 3, 10%); offers of complementary or integrative medicine education to health care professionals and cancer patients ( n = 3, 10%); and coordinated visits to established integrative oncology programs ( n = 1, 3%).

Many strategies were reported for funding daily operations and for recovering the costs of complementary (and, in some countries, conventional) cancer therapies from patients (Table i). Most programs described more than one funding and cost-recovery strategy. Daily operations are funded (funding nr = 10, 34%) through a combination of charitable donations ( n = 13, 45%), cancer agency or hospital funds ( n = 6, 21%), private foundation support ( n = 5, 17%), public funding ( n = 4, 14%), volunteer support ( n = 2, 7%), licensing fees ( n = 1, 3%), and research grants ( n = 1, 3%). Costs of treatment are recovered (recovery nr = 13, 45%) through direct patient payment ( n = 5, 17%), private insurance ( n = 3, 10%), a membership fee ( n = 1, 3%), and public health care ( n = 1, 3%). At least some complementary therapies are offered free of charge within 15 programs (52%).

TABLE I  Description of organizational structure and operations for integrative oncology programs


Overall, funding mechanisms show variability and variety, but some within-country similarities are notable. The programs in our sample that operate in England are financed partly through charitable donations and public (National Health Service) or hospital funds, with some volunteer support. Those programs exclusively provide complementary therapies free of charge, sometimes with a donation request and a limit placed on the number of hours or sessions that clients can access. Programs within the United States also rely on support from foundations, private donors, and (in 1 case) research grants, but financing is also assisted through hospital budgets (where relevant), third-party billing, and direct billing to patients. Those programs most commonly recover costs from private insurance plans and direct patient payment, but most also provide at least some therapies free of charge or at a reduced rate.

3.5  Process of Care

Information about the initial patient assessment procedure was reported for 20 programs (69%). Initial assessments commonly involve a structured consultation or consultations with one or more therapists to collaboratively develop a care plan ( n = 6, 21%); patient education and advice ( n = 5, 17%); a structured introduction to available services ( n = 4, 14%); a holistic (that is, some combination of physical, psychological, social, or spiritual) assessment ( n = 4, 14%); a medical history and a history of complementary and conventional therapy use ( n = 3, 10%); an assessment of patient needs, concerns, and expectations ( n = 3, 10%); and other assessments such as physical exams, psychological assessments, and lifestyle consultations. Further, three quarters of the programs ( n = 21, 72%) reported some details about patient flow through the integrative programs ( n = 8, 28%), although the level of detail reported varied widely between programs. The integrative oncology programs included in our review used a variety of elements: tours, orientations, or structured introductory sessions before the start of care; individualized diet or supplementation programs or advice; telephone help lines; routine patient evaluation and follow-up consultations; referral to community-based resources; various means of internal referrals; and patient education, among others.

Some programs are inpatient-only programs, others are outpatient-only, and some serve both inpatients and outpatients. Programs also vary by the level of patient involvement in their own care and decision-making, with a tendency toward collaborative decision-making between therapists, patients, and their families. Some programs are very structured, with a common process outlined for each participant or client within the program, and others are very unstructured and rely on patients to identify and schedule appointments for their therapies of choice. Some programs require a written referral or clearance from conventional practitioners to proceed with complementary treatment, and others rely on only informal communication between complementary and conventional cancer professionals, often initiated by patients.

Clearly, the complexity of, and the variety within, programs cannot be summarized succinctly, and so Table ii provides a brief description of the process of care within each program.

TABLE II   Description of patient care and flow in integrative oncology programs


3.6  Research and Evaluation within Integrative Oncology Programs

More than two thirds of the programs ( n = 20, 69%) reported maintaining an active research program or an evaluation strategy, or both ( n = 16, 55%). Although little information was reported about participant recruitment strategies, research personnel, and a funding structure, the focus of the research programs is quite clearly clinical trials of therapies currently offered within the program, therapies being considered within the program, or evaluation of a specific model of integrative care. Some programs include a qualitative research component as a means to describe the treatment model and possible outcomes in the words of patients who have chosen an integrative approach. All programs have framed their research program in terms of the use of complementary therapies for cancer- and cancer treatment–related symptoms, but not as a cancer cure.

Half the programs ( n = 16, 55%) in our sample reported consistently measuring patient outcomes as a means to evaluate the program. Of the remaining programs, 2 (7%) specifically reported not conducting program evaluations, and 11 (38%) were silent on that issue. A range of outcomes are assessed across the programs, including quality of life, cancer- and cancer treatment–related symptoms, well-being, survival, patient-identified concerns and benefits, and descriptions of patient experiences within the program. Some programs rely on researcher-developed questionnaires to assess patient outcomes; others rely on standardized measures. Most commonly, a baseline assessment is made when a patient is first referred to the program, with follow-up occurring after treatment or after a predetermined amount of time.

For evaluation purposes, 3 programs (10%) reported collecting data other than patient outcome data, including clinic volume, therapies used, reasons for referral, financial assistance requests, and client feedback on aspects of the program they liked or would like to see changed. Results of the evaluation programs are used to improve the treatment approach or to develop a case for expansion of the program; they are sometimes published in academic journals or presented at scientific conferences.


Our review highlights the internationally growing number and diversity of integrative oncology programs that share a common vision to provide whole-person and patient-centred care, inclusive of evidence-based complementary and conventional medicine. At least 29 such programs are operating internationally, with the 1960s marking the beginnings of such programs and with most having been established since the 1990s. More programs are certainly in operation than are included in our review, given that we reviewed only the English, French, and German academic literature and searched only English-language databases and journals. Most of the programs included in our review are based in England or the United States, which likely does not reflect the actual pattern of integrative oncology programs internationally. For example, in Germany, complementary approaches to cancer care have historically been fairly well integrated with conventional care, although our review captured only 2 German programs. We are also aware of several integrative medicine programs within the United States that include a large cancer focus, but that are not specifically integrative oncology programs, including the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona65, the University of California at San Francisco Osher Center for Integrative Medicine66, the Johns Hopkins Complementary and Integrative Medicine Service67, and the Mayo Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program68. There are certainly several more examples of integrative oncology programs than were included in our review, indicating that integrative oncology programs are even more varied than described here.

At least part of the observed variety across integrative oncology programs can be explained by differences in the political, social, and organizational environments in which they were developed; other factors are the varied backgrounds, skills, and experiences of the leaders driving program development69,70. The varied environments have resulted in a wide range of approaches to development and operation, collaboration, communication, and cost recovery. Most definitions of integrative oncology found in the literature refer to a novel and idealized form of health care practice that focuses on the whole person and that includes a new structure and new processes for shared patient management, shared care, and shared overall values and goals10,11,43. However, although the programs included in our review clearly strive to achieve that vision, most fall short of implementing the full spectrum of structures and processes expected within truly integrative practices. For example, fewer than half the programs we reviewed reported holding regular inter-professional team meetings or sharing charts with the interprofessional team, processes that are both fundamental to providing seamless, interdisciplinary care inclusive of both conventional and complementary medicine. This lack of agreement between idealized and real-world practice should not, however, reflect poorly on the real-world examples that we reviewed; instead, it reflects the context-dependent nature of those programs70. The included integrative oncology programs are quite likely representations of what is possible in the current political, social, and organizational environment in which complementary medicine remains on the margins of mainstream care. Regardless, the observed differences between idealized and real-world practice does raise a question: Just how “integrative” is the discipline of integrative oncology at present? Perhaps our findings signal a need to develop a scale or other tool to help gauge progress towards the vision. Further, the observed variety in operational models highlights the need for all programs—developing and existing—to maintain a comprehensive understanding of factors that could influence sustainability: for example policies, regulations, technology, and patient demands. Through regular process evaluations, integrative oncology programs can adapt to remain relevant and effective in the community they serve69.

The articles included in this review are only snapshots of programs at certain points in time, and therefore our review of them does not capture the complexity and fluidity of programs as they adapt and change within their environment. Similarly, we are tied to a reported view of included programs, a view that is inherently limited by the space constraints of the written record and that holds the potential for selective or idealized reporting. To enhance data reliability and to minimize missing data, we attempted to contact personnel within each of the included programs. We were somewhat successful, but we were not able to talk to a representative from every program. It is therefore likely that some of the information reported here is out of date or otherwise no longer applicable. For example, we are aware that at least 1 of the included programs, the Geffen Cancer Center and Research Institute, no longer operates in the reported format. The same could also be true for other programs.


Our review suggests that distinct integrative oncology models are operating within England and the United States, with few published examples from other countries to be able to draw reliable comparisons. A mixture of both hospital- and community-based programs operate in each country, but the way in which the day-to-day operations are financed, the programs are administered, and costs are recovered from clients vary. Programs in England are exclusively funded through charitable donations and public or hospital funds, with some volunteer support; programs in the United States sometimes use such sources and additionally obtain support through third-party billing, direct billing to patients, and research grants. Further, programs in England exclusively provide care free of charge, but most place a limit on services that clients can receive. Within the United States, free care is not uncommon, but payment is usually involved, which might be recovered through insurance or direct patient payment.

Given the growth and innovation in the integrative oncology field, we hope that this review provides a starting point to navigate some of the issues involved in developing and establishing such programs. It should be instructive for practitioners, researchers, administrators, and funders working in an integrative oncology environment to read of the varied examples and factors that influence program development. Integrative oncology attempts to bridge numerous therapeutic modalities and philosophies of care, and related programs may therefore not be supported by all types of practitioners despite being requested by many patients. Furthermore, implementation is complicated by a need for system- and cultural-level changes and lack of a universal definition. Ultimately, implementation requires local collaboration and strong and committed leadership to be successful. If people working in these environments continue to publish descriptions of their experiences with program development and operation, including evaluations of the process and outcomes of their programs, the field can continue to demonstrate value that can translate across disciplines in oncology and within an evolving health care system.


We are grateful for the help of Marie-Jasmine Parsi in sourcing the full-text articles for review, Isabelle Gaboury for reviewing the search protocol and suggesting possible information sources, and information specialist Jessie McGowan for conducting the systematic search. We also extend our thanks to the people from the integrative oncology programs who responded to our questions and to the experts we approached for providing citations to investigate. This study is supported by a grant from the Lotte and John Hecht Memorial Foundation.


None of the authors has any financial conflicts of interest to declare.



Ovid medline 1950 to December, Week 5, 2009



1. Astin JA, Reilly C, Perkins C, Child WL on behalf of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Breast cancer patients’ perspectives on and use of complementary and alternative medicine: a study by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. J Soc Integr Oncol 2006;4:157–69.
cross-ref  pubmed  

2. Balneaves LG, Bottorff JL, Hislop TG, Herbert C. Levels of commitment: exploring complementary therapy use by women with breast cancer. J Altern Complement Med 2006;12:459–66.
cross-ref  pubmed  

3. Eng J, Ramsum D, Verhoef M, Guns E, Davison J, Gallagher R. A population-based survey of complementary and alternative medicine use in men recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. Integr Cancer Ther 2003;2:212–16.

4. Molassiotis A, Fernadez–Ortega P, Pud D, et al. Use of complementary and alternative medicine in cancer patients: a European survey. Ann Oncol 2005;16:655–63.
cross-ref  pubmed  

5. Gansler T, Kaw C, Crammer C, Smith T. A population-based study of prevalence of complementary methods use by cancer survivors: a report from the American Cancer Society’s studies of cancer survivors. Cancer 2008;113:1048–57.
cross-ref  pubmed  

6. Deng GE, Frenkel M, Cohen L, et al. on behalf of the Society for Integrative Oncology. Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology: complementary therapies and botanicals. J Soc Integr Oncol 2009;7:85–120.

7. Sagar SM. Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology: complementary therapies and botanicals. J Soc Integr Oncol 2009;7:83–4.

8. Sagar SM. Integrative oncology in North America. J Soc Integr Oncol 2006;4:27–39.

9. Sagar SM, Leis AM. Integrative oncology: a Canadian and international perspective. Curr Oncol 2008;15(suppl 2):s71–3.
pubmed  pmc  

10. Boon H, Verhoef M, O’Hara D, Findlay B, Majid N. Integrative health care: arriving at a working definition. Altern Ther Health Med 2004;10:48–56.

11. Coulter ID, Khorsan R, Crawford C, Hsiao AF. Integrative health care under review: an emerging field. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2010;33:690–710.
cross-ref  pubmed  

12. Berg LB. Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon; 2003.

13. Zappa SB, Cassileth BR. Complementary approaches to palliative oncology care. J Nurs Care Qual 2003;18:22–6.
cross-ref  pubmed  

14. Cassileth BR. The Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center. Semin Oncol 2002;29:585–8.

15. Cassileth BR, Vickers AJ. Massage therapy for symptom control: outcome study at a major cancer center. J Pain Symptom Manage 2004;28:244–9.
cross-ref  pubmed  

16. Cassileth BR, Gubili J. The Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center. In: Cohen L, Markman M, eds. Integrative Oncology: Incorporating Complementary Medicine into Conventional Cancer Care. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press; 2008: 67–78.

17. cam center profile: Integrative Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center, New York. Altern Ther Womens Health 2003;5:40.

18. Deng G. Integrative cancer care in a U.S. academic cancer centre: the Memorial Sloan–Kettering experience. Curr Oncol 2008;15(suppl 2):s108.es68–71.

19. Miner W. Training massage therapists to work in oncology. J Soc Integr Oncol 2007;5:163–6.
cross-ref  pubmed  

20. Dolbeault S, Holland JC. Twenty-five years of psychooncology in New York: a retrospective [French]. Bull Cancer 2008;95:419–24.

21. Zablocki E. Integrative care, mind–body methods aid cancer patients. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients 2004;:54–5.

22. Block KI, Block P, Gyllenhaal C. The role of optimal healing environments in patients undergoing cancer treatment: clinical research protocol guidelines. J Altern Complement Med 2004;10(suppl 1):S157–70.

23. Block KI. On models for integrative medical practice. Integr Cancer Ther 2007;6:309–12.
cross-ref  pubmed  

24. Charles L. Integration of complementary disciplines into the oncology clinic. Part vii. Integrating psychological services with medical treatment for patients with breast cancer. Curr Probl Cancer 2000;24:280–90.
cross-ref  pubmed  

25. Micozzi MS. Integrative medicine in contemporary health care: part ii. Integr Med 2006;5:24–8.

26. Birdsall T. Timothy Birdsall, nd: facilitating hope in integrative cancer treatment. Interview by Frank Lampe and Suzanne Snyder. Altern Ther Health Med 2009;15:64–74.

27. Tralins AH. Cancer treatment: an integrative approach. Total Health 2001;22:72–3.

28. Peace G. Integrated cancer care: linking medicine and therapies. Nurs Times 2002;98:35–7.

29. Peace G, Manasse A. The Cavendish Centre for Integrated Cancer Care: assessment of patients’ needs and responses. Complement Ther Med 2002;10:33–41.
cross-ref  pubmed  

30. Chong OT. An integrative approach to addressing clinical issues in complementary and alternative medicine in an outpatient oncology center. Clin J Oncol Nurs 2006;10:83–8.
cross-ref  pubmed  

31. Mackereth P. Complementary and alternative therapies in cancer care: greater evidence and greater organization of provision. Eur J Oncol Nurs 2004;8:1–2.
cross-ref  pubmed  

32. Mackerth P. The award winning “Completing the Circle” complementary therapy service initiative at Christie nhs Hospital Manchester. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery 2004;10:127–32.

33. Lerner MA. Keith Block—Integrating diet, fitness and psychological support into oncology practice. In: Lerner MA, ed. Choices in Healing: Integrating the Best of Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer. Cambridge, MA: mit Press; 1996: 335–51.

34. Geffen JR. Creating optimal healing environments for patients with cancer and their families: insights, challenges, and lessons learned from a decade of experience. J Altern Complement Med 2004;10(suppl 1):S93–102.

35. Mason R. Healing the whole person on the journey through cancer an interview with Jeremy R. Geffen, md, facp. Altern Complement Ther 2000;6:135–40.

36. Burke C, Sikora K. Complementary and conventional cancer care: the integration of two cultures. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol) 1993;5:220–7.

37. Burke C, Macnish S, Saunders J, Gallini A, Warne I, Downing J. The development of a massage service for cancer patients. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol) 1994;6:381–4.

38. Seers HE, Gale N, Paterson C, Cooke HJ, Tuffrey V, Polley MJ. Individualised and complex experiences of integrative cancer support care: combining qualitative and quantitative data. Support Care Cancer 2009;17:1159–67.
cross-ref  pubmed  

39. Harrington JE, Baker BS, Hoffman CJ. Effect of an integrated support programme on the concerns and wellbeing of women with breast cancer: a national service evaluation. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2012;18:10–15.

40. Sierpina VS, Kreitzer MJ, Cunningham AJ, Elder WG, Bruckner G. Innovations in integrative healthcare education: a healing journey for cancer patients in Ontario and an online interdisciplinary cam course for allied health students in Kentucky. Explore (NY) 2007;3:423–5.

41. Brazier A, Cooke K, Moravan V. Using mixed methods for evaluating an integrative approach to cancer care: a case study. Integr Cancer Ther 2008;7:5–17.
cross-ref  pubmed  

42. Hollenberg D. How do private cam therapies affect integrative health care settings in a publicly funded health care system? J Comp Integr Med 2007;4:.

43. Hollenberg D. Uncharted ground: patterns of professional interaction among complementary/alternative and biomedical practitioners in integrative health care settings. Soc Sci Med 2006;62:731–44.

44. Baynham–Fletcher L, Babiak–Vazquez AE, Cuello D, Frenkel MA. Credentialing complementary practitioners in a large academic cancer center. J Soc Integr Oncol 2008;6:169–75.

45. Frenkel M, Cohen L. Incorporating complementary and integrative medicine in a comprehensive cancer center. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 2008;22:727–36.
cross-ref  pubmed  

46. Richardson MM, Babiak–Vazquez AE, Frenkel MA. Music therapy in a comprehensive cancer center. J Soc Integr Oncol 2008;6:76–81.

47. Cohen L, Baynham–Fletcher L, Kirkwood C. The integrative medicine program at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. In: Cohen L, Markman M, eds. Integrative Oncology: Incorporating Complementary Medicine into Conventional Cancer Care. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press; 2008: 49–65.

48. Gould D. Hyperthermia and electrochemical therapy at St. Georg Hospital, Germany: Friedrich Douwes, md’s innovative integrative cancer care. Altern Complement Ther 2001;7:291–5.

49. Kaltsas H. Too hot for cancer: hyperthermia and electrotherapy. Altern Med 2000;37:42–4.

50. Rosenthal DS, Doherty–Gilman A, Medeiros C, DeCristofaro S, Dean–Clower E. Integrative oncology—Leonard P. Zakim Center: the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute experience. In: Cohen L, Markman M, eds. Integrative Oncology: Incorporating Complementary Medicine into Conventional Cancer Care. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press; 2008: 79–103.

51. Ott MJ, Lynch M. Integrating complementary and conventional symptom management in a cancer center. Oncol Nurs Forum 2002;29:25–7.
cross-ref  pubmed  

52. Lerner M. Virginia C. Livingston—integrating diet, nutritional supplements, and immunotherapy. In: Lerner M, ed. Choices in Healing: Integrating the Best of Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer. Cambridge, MA: mit Press; 1996: 319–33.

53. Maher EJ. An integrated support and information centre in a large U.K. cancer centre established in 1993 and replicated in more than 60 units across the United Kingdom and Australia. Curr Oncol 2008;15(suppl 2):s108.es64–7.

54. Kent A. Mind and body cure. Times 1989; May 11: Features section.

55. Daneil R. A cancer help centre. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery 1996;2:71–5.

56. Costelloe M, Nelson L. The needs of recently diagnosed cancer patients. Nurs Stand 2004;19:42–4.

57. Geffen JR. Integrative oncology for the whole person: a multidimensional approach to cancer care. Integr Cancer Ther 2010;9:105–21.
cross-ref  pubmed  

58. Gaynor M. One oncologist’s view of integrative care: keynote address, comprehensive cancer care conference, April 2003. Integr Cancer Ther 2004;3:82–7.
cross-ref  pubmed  

59. Stephen JE, Mackenzie G, Sample S, Macdonald J. Twenty years of therapeutic touch in a Canadian cancer agency: lessons learned from a case study of integrative oncology practice. Support Care Cancer 2007;15:993–8.
cross-ref  pubmed  

60. Weis J, Bartsch HH, Nagel GA, Ungers C. Psychosocial care for cancer patients: a new holistic psychosomatic approach in acute care and rehabilitation. Psychooncology 1996;5:51–4.

61. Hews S. Developing a model for complementary care for patients with cancer. Nurs Times 1996;105:14–15.

62. Abdallah–Baran R. Nurturing spirit through complementary cancer care. Clin J Oncol Nurs 2003;7:468–70.

63. Broom A, Tovey P. Therapeutic pluralism? Evidence, power and legitimacy in U.K. cancer services. Sociol Health Illn 2007;29:551–69.
cross-ref  pubmed  

64. Gage H, Storey L, McDowell C, et al. Integrated care: utilisation of complementary and alternative medicine within a conventional cancer treatment centre. Complement Ther Med 2009;17:84–91.
cross-ref  pubmed  

65. Koithan M, Bell IR, Caspi O, Ferro L, Brown V. Patients’ experiences and perceptions of a consultative model integrative medicine clinic: a qualitative study. Integr Cancer Ther 2007;6:174–84.
cross-ref  pubmed  

66. Abrams DI. An overview of integrative oncology. Clin Adv Hematol Oncol 2007;5:45–7.

67. Menten K, Lee S, Dobs AS. The Johns Hopkins Complementary and Integrative Medicine Service. In: Cohen L, Markman M, eds. Integrative Oncology: Incorporating Complementary Medicine into Conventional Cancer Care. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press; 2008: 105–22.

68. Barton DL, Bauer BA, Loprinzi CL. Integrative oncology at Mayo Clinic: research informing practice. In: Cohen L, Markman M, eds. Integrative Oncology: Incorporating Complementary Medicine into Conventional Cancer Care. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press; 2008: 123–38.

69. Rychetnik L, Frommer M, Hawe P, Shiell A. Criteria for evaluating evidence on public health interventions. J Epidemiol Community Health 2002;56:119–27.
cross-ref  pubmed  

70. Verhoef MJ, Vanderheyden LC, Fønnebø V. A whole systems research approach to cancer care: why do we need it and how do we get started? Integr Cancer Ther 2006;5:287–92.
cross-ref  pubmed  

Correspondence to: Dugald M. Seely, Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre, 29 Bayswater Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario K1Y 2E5., E-mail: dseely@ccnm.edu

(Return to Top)

Current Oncology , VOLUME 19 , NUMBER 6 , 2012

Copyright © 2019 Multimed Inc.
ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)