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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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

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