Objective: To examine the effectiveness of a multifaceted complementary therapies intervention, delivered in a systematic manner within an Australian public hospital setting, on quality of life and symptom distress outcomes for cancer patients.

Methods: Adults receiving treatment for any form of cancer were eligible to participate in this study. Self-referred participants were offered a course of six complementary therapy sessions. Measures were administered at baseline, and at the third and sixth visit. The primary outcomes were quality of life and symptom distress. Linear mixed models were used to assess change in the primary outcomes.

Results: In total, 1376 cancer patients participated in this study. The linear mixed models demonstrated that there were significant improvements in quality of life and significant reductions in symptom distress over six sessions. Body-based therapies demonstrated significantly superior improvement in quality of life over counselling, but no other differences between therapies were identified. Reduced symptom distress was not significantly associated with any particular type of therapy.

Conclusion: A self-selected complementary therapies intervention, provided in an Australian public hospital by accredited therapists, for cancer patients significantly mproved quality of life and reduced symptom distress. The effect of this intervention on quality of life has particular salience, since cancer impacts on many areas of people’s lives and impairs quality of life.


cancer, complementary therapies, quality of life, distress, prospective study

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