Open Access Research article

Attitudes and barriers towards participation in an acupuncture trial among breast cancer patients: a survey study

Jun J Mao123*, Tiffany Tan14, Susan Q Li1, Salimah H Meghani4, Karen Glanz234 and Deborah Bruner5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce St, 2 Gates Building, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

2 Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

3 Abramson Cancer Center, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

4 University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

5 Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:7  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-7

Published: 8 January 2014

Abstract

Background

As breast cancer patients increasingly use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), clinical trials are needed to guide appropriate clinical use. We sought to identify socio-demographic, clinical and psychological factors related to willingness to participate (WTP) and to determine barriers to participation in an acupuncture clinical trial among breast cancer patients.

Methods

We conducted a cross-sectional survey study among post-menopausal women with stage I-III breast cancer on aromatase inhibitors at an urban academic cancer center.

Results

Of the 300 participants (92% response rate), 148 (49.8%) reported WTP in an acupuncture clinical trial. Higher education (p = 0.001), increased acupuncture expectancy (p < 0.001), and previous radiation therapy (p = 0.004) were significantly associated with WTP. Travel difficulty (p = 0.002), concern with experimentation (p = 0.013), and lack of interest in acupuncture (p < 0.001) were significant barriers to WTP. Barriers differed significantly by socio-demographic factors with white people more likely to endorse travel difficulty (p = 0.018) and non-white people more likely to report concern with experimentation (p = 0.024). Older patients and those with lower education were more likely to report concern with experimentation and lack of interest in acupuncture (p < 0.05).

Conclusions

Although nearly half of the respondents reported WTP, significant barriers to participation exist and differ among subgroups. Research addressing these barriers is needed to ensure effective accrual and improve the representation of individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Keywords:
Acupuncture; Breast neoplasm; Clinical trial; Aromatase inhibitors/*adverse effects; Musculoskeletal; Joint pain; Attitudes; Barriers