Post-print of: Newell, S & Sanson-Fisher, RW 2000, 'Australian oncologists' self-reported knowledge and attitudes about non-traditional therapies used by cancer patients ', Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 172, no. 3, pp. 110-113.
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Objective: To assess Australian radiation and medical oncologists' self-reported knowledge about and attitudes towards a range of non-traditional therapies used by people with cancer. Design: Postal survey during May and June 1997 of all 265 radiation and medical oncologists practising in Australia. Participants: 161 oncologists returned surveys (61% response rate). Main outcome measures: Oncologists' own level of knowledge, and, for each known therapy, their perceptions of its likely harm or benefit in patients being treated curatively and palliatively, and of the prevalence of use among their patients. Results: Oncologists reported knowing most about acupuncture, antioxidant therapy and meditation and least about cellular therapy, magnetotherapy and psychic surgery. The therapies most likely to be considered helpful were meditation, acupuncture and hypnotherapy. Those most likely to be considered harmful were coffee enemas, psychic surgery, Iscador therapy and diet therapies. Perceptions of patients' use of most therapies varied widely, with herbal therapies, antioxidant therapy and meditation considered the most commonly used. Conclusions: These results indicate self-identified gaps in oncologists' knowledge about non-traditional therapies their patients may use; they suggest a need to consider including education about these therapies in oncologists' training.