Complementary and Alternative Medicine Modality Use and Beliefs Among African American Prostate Cancer Survivors

Randy A. Jones

Ann Gill Taylor

Cheryl Bourguignon

Richard Steeves

Gertrude Fraser

Marguerite Lippert

Dan Theodorescu

Holly Mathews

Kerry Laing Kilbridge

cancer survivor, prostate cancer, African American, perceptions
ONF 2007, 34(2), 359-364. DOI: 10.1188/07.ONF.359-364

Purpose/Objectives: To examine the cultural beliefs and attitudes of African American prostate cancer survivors regarding the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities.

Research Approach: Mixed methods with primary emphasis on a phenomenology approach.

Setting: In-person interviews in participants' homes and rural community facilities.

Participants: 14 African American men diagnosed with and treated for prostate cancer.

Methodologic Approach: Personal interviews using a semistructured interview guide.

Main Research Variables: Prostate cancer, CAM, African American men's health, culture, herbs, prayer, spirituality, and trust.

Findings: All participants used prayer often; two men used meditation and herbal preparations. All men reported holding certain beliefs about different categories of CAM. Several men were skeptical of CAM modalities other than prayer. Four themes were revealed: importance of spiritual needs as a CAM modality to health, the value of education in relation to CAM, importance of trust in selected healthcare providers, and how men decide on what to believe about CAM modalities.

Conclusions: Prayer was a highly valued CAM modality among African American prostate cancer survivors as a way to cope with their disease. Medical treatment and trust in healthcare providers also were found to be important.

Interpretation: Most participants were skeptical of CAM modalities other than prayer. Participants expressed a strong belief in spirituality and religiosity in relationship to health and their prostate cancer. Participants' trust in their healthcare providers was important. Healthcare providers must understand how African Americans decide what to believe about CAM modalities to improve their health. This research provided valuable information for future development of culturally sensitive communication and infrastructural improvements in the healthcare system.

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