Complementary and alternative therapy use at end-of-life in community settings

Virginia P. Tilden, Linda L. Drach, Susan W. Tolle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by an end-of-life population. Design: Random selection of death certificates used to locate family caregivers who were interviewed by telephone 2-5 months following decedents' deaths. Participants: Decedent subjects died of natural causes in community settings. Family caregivers were very involved in the care and decision making for decedents during their terminal illness. Measure: Family caregivers reported on whether decedents had used CAM, type of modality, and motivation for use. Results: CAM use by decedents was reported by 53.7% of family caregivers. Decedents who had used CAM were more likely to be younger, to have college degrees and higher household incomes, and to have used one or more life-sustaining treatment. The most frequent reason the decedents had used CAM was for symptom relief. Conclusions: As baby boomers age, bringing their CAM familiarity and previous practices into the end-of-life phase, clinicians will need to be aware that CAM use for symptom control is likely to be prevalent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-817
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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