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Network of Competencies for Complementary Medicine in Oncology

Network of Competencies for Complementary Medicine in Oncology

The Hans-Bredow-Institut carried out two partial studies within the framework of the Network of Competencies for Complementary Medicine in Oncology, a German-wide and multidisciplinary collaborative project supported by the Deutsche Krebshilfe [German Cancer Aid] from 2012 to 2015. In the first study, it investigated the extent, as well as the nature, of what is contained in representations of treatment regimes involving complementary medicine in oncology, as these are presented in various media sources, together with how patients perceive and evaluate them. Qualitative interviews with 50 (cancer) patients in various stages of illness were conducted alongside an extensive analysis of print, television and internet sources.

In the second partial study, the Institute developed a target-group-specific communication concept, which focuses on establishing an information platform online on the issue of complementary medicine. A pilot version of the information platform for patients and their relatives could be implemented and evaluated in the first funding phase.


 

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Project Description

The Network of Competencies for Complementary Medicine in Oncology was supported by the Deutsche Krebshilfe [German Cancer Aid] from 2012 to 2015 as a collaborative multidisciplinary joint research project. Within the framework of this patient-oriented joint project, the institute established, among other things, a comprehensive knowledge database for complementary medicine, developed and evaluated concepts for consulting and training and determined the needs for information of both patients and doctors. The Institute was involved with two partial studies: on the one hand, it examined the presentation of complementary medicine in media; on the other hand, it analysed the target-group-specific communication concept, as well as a pilot version for an information platform. The collaborative project was coordinated by Dr. M. Horneber (Nuremburg Hospital). You can find further information about the Network of Competencies for Complementary Medicine in Oncology at www.kompetenznetz-kokon.de.

Findings of the Partial Project "Presentation of Complementary Medicine in the Media"

Within the frame of a partial project as part of the KOKON-Verbundprojekts [joint project of the Network of Competencies for Complementary Medicine in Oncology], the Hans-Bredow-Institut examined the scope and content alignment of complementary medical procedures in cancer medicine in various media offers along with its perception and evaluation from a patient perspective. Besides a comprehensive analysis of offerings in print, television and the Internet, we conducted qualitative interviews with 50 cancer patients in different stages of their illness. The media analysis showed, among other things, how the subject of complementary medicine is framed in terms of content and language. Furthermore, it showed what kind of procedures have been thematised often and in what context of cancer it has been done. The interviews with the patients shed light on how media coverage of complementary medicine is perceived and what significance it has for the information repertoire of those affected by it.

The media analysis of the presentation of complementary medical substances and therapies in print, online or TV media covers the period from November 2017 to April 2013. Overall, 177 journal and newspaper articles, 68 TV reports of private and public service broadcasting along with 58 websites on this topic have been analysed. It turned out that complementary medicine is mostly addressed in the print section in patient magazines (34%) and quality newspaper (21%), on television in documentaries (31%) and science journals (19%) and online in health portals (14%) and private doctor’s and therapist’s websites (14%).

Single complementary medical representations were found in all three types of media (print: 330; TV: 132; online: 331), especially in connection with breast cancer (print: 18%; TV: 12%; online: 11% of all complementary medical representations). "Healing or improvement of chances for recovery” was the most frequently mentioned advantage of complementary medicine (print: 32%; TV: 39%; online: 39% of all representations of complementary medicine). The media mentioned disadvantages of substances or treatments used in complementary medicine a lot less. The disadvantage that cancer cannot be healed (print: 3%; TV: 21%; online: 15%); that it could result in impairments of a patient's physical health and that there could be negative interaction with other therapies (each under 10%) has been discussed a lot more.

In addition to the media analyses, qualitative interviews with 50 tumour patients (37 women, 13 men) have been conducted. They were interviewed regarding their reception and evaluation of complementary medicine in the media. The patients (average age of 60 years) had breast cancer (27), prostate cancer (7) or another kind of tumour (16). Fourteen of them were under medical treatments and 32 in follow-up care. Four people who were interviewed had already finished the treatments and the follow-ups. The interviews were conducted on the phone or in person with an average duration of 43 minutes. The findings show that patients notice the topic of complementary medicine more in print coverage than any other coverage. In most cases, they remember a general statement or information on the topics nutrition/metabolism or on pharmaceutical/biological measures. Often, the interviewees could not remember specific details - neither concerning statements on complementary medicine nor on where they have heard, seen or read something about it. They also seemed overwhelmed with the complexity of the topic from time to time.

Findings of the Partial Project "Development of an Information Platform on the Topic of Complementary Medicine"

What information needs exist on the topic of complementary medicine in cancer medicine and how can evidence-based knowledge be shared? Within the framework of the Network of Competencies for Complementary Medicine in Oncology, the Institute developed a target-group-specific communication concept and a pilot version of the information platform for patients and their relatives. To impart scientific, medical, evidence-based information poses a big challenge.

In the second partial study, the Institute developed a target-group-specific communication concept based on the information needs of patients and medical staff, which focuses on establishing an information platform online on the issue of complementary medicine. A pilot version of the information platform for patients and their relatives could be implemented and evaluated within the first funding phase. Based on studies on the needs for information of both cancer patients and doctors, the institute developed a target-group-specific communication concept to contribute to a better access to information and transparency of information on treatment methods in complementary medicine in oncology. The core of the concept is a comprehensive online platform that provides information in a structured way, which can also be easily understood by laypersons. Within this project, a pilot version of an information platform was established that provides information on typical symptoms concerning cancer as well as information on common treatments in complementary medicine. It will also provide information for cancer patients on how they can do something good for themselves during their illness. Additional to the text-based contents, the platform provides audio-visual contents to offer patients and their relatives an alternative access to information. Checklists, questionnaires as well as the categorisation of treatments according to the state of research and application context offer laypersons further possibilities to understand treatments in complementary medicine and discuss the right treatment for their health requirements with their doctor and find the right contact person.

A pilot version of the online platform has been evaluated and reviewed in a qualitative study with 20 patients and two experts regarding its navigation, structure, preparation as well as the comprehensibility of the content. Since August 2016, the pilot version of the information platform www.kokoninfo.de is available online.

Project Information

Overview

Duration: 2012-2015

Research programme:
RP3 - Knowledge for the Media Society

Third party

Deutsche Krebshilfe

Cooperation Partner

Contact person

Dr. Claudia Lampert
Senior Researcher Media Socialisation & Health Communication

Dr. Claudia Lampert

Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

Tel. +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 92
Fax +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 77

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