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Durham University

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Publication details for Ms Andrea Lambell

Lambell, Andrea (2019). ‘Other-unproven’ US research and its implications for complementary therapies in the UK. Cancer Nursing Practice 18(5): e1586.

Author(s) from Durham


An American study has concluded that people with cancer who receive complementary medicine (CM) have a twofold greater risk of death compared with patients who had no CM. The Yale University study is presented as an assessment of ‘complementary’ rather than ‘alternative’ therapies, but this critical analysis suggests it fails to differentiate between the two approaches to the use of unconventional interventions. It also fails to address the complex factors involved in its authors’ question: ‘What patient characteristics are associated with the use of CM for cancer and what is the association of CM with treatment adherence and survival?’.

By considering the US study in the context of conditions and developments in the UK, this article offers insights into ways appropriately trained and regulated complementary therapists could play a useful role in new models of care. It also identifies areas for further investigation.