Publication date

Towards an open and effective dialogue on complementary medicine in oncology: protocol of patient participatory study 'COMMON'.

Mentink, M., Noordman, J., Busch, M., Vliet, L. van, Timmer-Bonte, J.A., Dulmen, S. van. Towards an open and effective dialogue on complementary medicine in oncology: protocol of patient participatory study 'COMMON'. BMJ Open: 2021, 11(10), p. nr. e053005.
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Approximately half of patients with cancer use some form of complementary medicine alongside conventional cancer treatment. The topic of complementary medicine often remains undiscussed in consultations between patients with cancer and their healthcare providers. This results in increased risks for adverse or interaction effects and decreased access to the benefits of evidence-based complementary medicine for patients with cancer. This paper describes the design of patient participatory study titled 'COMMON' that aims to explore and enhance open and effective communication about complementary medicine in oncology. The study is carried out in collaboration with 12 (former) patients with breast cancer as coresearchers.

Methods and analysis
The study complies with the six steps of the intervention mapping framework. Three non-academic hospitals recruit participants (patients with cancer, oncology healthcare providers and managers) for interviews about the organisation, experiences and needs regarding complementary medicine. To assess communication about complementary medicine, recorded oncology consultations are analysed. For an overview of evidence-based complementary medicine available to patients with cancer, a review of reviews is conducted on the evidence on cancer patient-reported outcomes of complementary medicine frequently used by patients with cancer, supplemented with an online search and survey among organisations and persons providing complementary medicine to patients with cancer. Together, these steps generate input for the development of a toolbox that supports an open and effective discussion on complementary medicine in oncology. In a pilot study, acceptability and usability of the toolbox are assessed among patients with cancer and oncology healthcare providers. Dissemination of the toolbox is covered by the commitment of stakeholder parties.

Ethics and dissemination
The Medical Ethics Committee Arnhem-Nijmegen declared the study was exempted from formal approval under the Dutch Medical Research Involving Human Subjects Act. The results will be disseminated through open-access, peer-reviewed publications, stakeholder-reporting and presentations at relevant conferences.