Integrating Complementary Medicine in Palliative Care: A Call for an Inter-Disciplinary Collaboration

Eran Ben-Arye, Noah Samuels and Michael Silbermann*

Integrating Complementary Medicine in Palliative Care: A Call for an Inter-Disciplinary Collaboration.

The interplay between complementary medicine and palliative care, both of which emphasize a patient-centered approach in order to improve quality of life-related concerns, is extremely important in the oncology setting.

The integration of evidence-based complementary medicine therapies within conventional palliative care can expand the available treatment options, especially for chemotherapy-induced toxicities for which conventional medicine options are often limited.

The integration of complementary medicine in palliative care may also provide an opportunity to address the bio-psycho-social-cultural-spiritual perspectives of care among those patients and caregivers for whom traditional medicine plays and important role in their health belief model.

This integration should evolve as an inter-disciplinary process, as
opposed to the intra-disciplinary approach which is being taken in most oncology settings.

The inter-disciplinary approach recognizes the variance in approach to patient care, while facilitating a multi-disciplinary approach and enabling specialists from both domains to provide care based on their clinical expertise as well as their perceived health-belief models of care.

Over the past four decades a paradigm shift has been occurring, in which
patient-centered care has become the focus of palliative medicine. Palliative care is taking place throughout the oncology setting, which recognizes the importance of addressing concerns related to the patient’s quality of life, and not only outcomes related to survival or other disease-centered parameters.

Palliative medicine provides therapeutic options which can reduce the level
of suffering among patients and their caregivers, while addressing bio-physical, psychological,
social and spiritual needs.

Improving QOL may, in turn, lead to a reduction in the use of medical services, and may even
impact outcomes such as survival rates among patients undergoing treatment.

Palliat Med Hosp Care Open J. 2016; 2(2): e7-e10. doi: 10.17140/PMHCOJ-2-e003