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Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Patients With Breast Cancer: Exploratory Study of Social Network Forum Data

Abstract : Background: Patients and health care professionals are becoming increasingly preoccupied in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) that can also be called nonpharmacological interventions (NPIs). In just a few years, this supportive care has gone from solutions aimed at improving the quality of life to solutions intended to reduce symptoms, supplement oncological treatments, and prevent recurrences. Digital social networks are a major vector for disseminating these practices that are not always disclosed to doctors by patients. An exploration of the content of exchanges on social networks by patients suffering from breast cancer can help to better identify the extent and diversity of these practices. Objective: This study aimed to explore the interest of patients with breast cancer in CAM from posts published in health forums and French-language social media groups. Methods: The retrospective study was based on a French database of 2 forums and 4 Facebook groups between June 3, 2006, and November 17, 2015. The extracted, anonymized, and compiled data (264,249 posts) were analyzed according to the occurrences associated with the NPI categories and NPI subcategories, their synonyms, and their related terms. Results: The results showed that patients with breast cancer use mainly physical (37.6%) and nutritional (31.3%) interventions. Herbal medicine is a subcategory that was cited frequently. However, the patients did not mention digital interventions. Conclusions: This exploratory study of the main French forums and discussion groups indicates a significant interest in CAM during and after treatments for breast cancer, with primarily physical and nutritional interventions complementing approved treatments. This study highlights the importance of accurate information (vs fake medicine), prescription and monitoring of these interventions, and the mediating role that health professionals must play in this regard.
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Contributor : Béatrice Lognos Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - 11:39:19 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 8:06:50 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Tuesday, March 9, 2021 - 7:06:04 PM


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Béatrice Lognos, François Carbonnel, Isabelle Boulze Launay, Sandra Bringay, Estelle Guerdoux-Ninot, et al.. Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Patients With Breast Cancer: Exploratory Study of Social Network Forum Data. JMIR Cancer, JMIR Publications, 2019, 5 (2), pp.e12536. ⟨10.2196/12536⟩. ⟨hal-03046021⟩



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