Health-care providers' perspectives on traditional and complementary alternative medicine of childhood cancer in Kenya

Gilbert Olbara, Josta Parigger, Festus Njuguna, Jodi Skiles, Mei Neni Sitaresmi, Suzanne Gordijn, Peter van de Ven, Gertjan Kaspers, Saskia Mostert

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Traditional and complementary alternative medicine (TCAM) use is rising globally. In many African countries, TCAM has been a way of life as the first and last resort remedy for many ailments, including cancer. Health-care providers (HCP) should address this need properly. This study explores HCP perspectives on TCAM in Kenya. Methods: This cross-sectional study used questionnaires. HCP involved in the care of children with cancer at a Kenyan academic hospital were interviewed. Results: In total, 155 HCP (response rate 79%) participated. Only 18% of HCP were positive about TCAM use. However, most HCP (85%) use TCAM themselves. More doctors (90%) than other HCP (56%) think that chemotherapy can cure cancer (P < 0.001).Thirty-three percent of HCP believe a combination of TCAM and chemotherapy is the best way to cure cancer, while 56% think that usefulness of TCAM is underestimated in conventional medicine. Self-prayer is regarded as most effective (58%) and safe (76%). Most harmful is witchcraft (80%). Most HCP (71%) think their knowledge about safety and efficacy of TCAM is inadequate. HCP think that their cancer patients use TCAM (97%) and that it is important that parents inform them about this (97%). However, only 5% of HCP always openly discuss TCAM with parents. Conclusions: HCP need to improve their knowledge of TCAM and facilitate open communication about TCAM with families so parents feel safe to discuss their interest in it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65
Number of pages12
JournalPediatric Blood and Cancer
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Childhood cancer
  • Health-care providers
  • Traditional and complementary alternative medicine

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