Document Type : Research Article


1 Department of Demography and Geodemography, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

2 Pregnancy Health Research Canter, Zahedan University of Medical Sciences, Zahedan, Iran

3 Department of Sociology, Faculty of Economics, Management, and Social Sciences, Shiraz University, Shiraz. Iran


Background: A significant proportion of cancer patients use Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) worldwide and especially in Middle Eastern countries. The present study aimed to investigate the prevalence and patterns of using Iranian Traditional Medicine (ITM) and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) among female cancer patients in Zahedan, southeast of Iran. Also, this study sought to determine whether the patients disclosed the use of ITM and CAM to their physicians.
Methods: In this descriptive-analytical cross-sectional study, 130 female patients, referred to three cancer treatment centers in Zahedan, were selected via the convenience sampling method, from November 2019 to May 2020. Data were collected using a valid and reliable questionnaire. The analysis of data and relationships between the variables was performed using Pearson’s correlation coefficient test, independent samples t-test, and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA).
Results: Iranian Traditional Medicine (ITM) was highly and moderately used by 14.6% and 62.3% of the patients, respectively; more than 70% of them reported the use of herbal preparations (herbal medicines, medicinal plants, and herbal distillates). Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) was utilized at a moderate level by 91.5% of the participants. The prevalence of diet therapy and the use of vitamins and mineral supplements was over 56% and the increased use of CAM was associated with a higher monthly income. Although 92.3% of the patients were undergoing treatment, a significant percentage of them (80.8%) did not disclose the use of ITM or CAM to their physicians.
Conclusion: The results highlighted the necessity of improving the physician-patient relationship in order to increase the patients’ trust and willingness to consult their physicians about the use of ITM and CAM. Our results also shed light on the need to educate patients about the necessity of consulting a physician about the use of such therapies to minimize the safety concerns.