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Open Access Research article

Measuring perceived effects of drinking an extract of basidiomycetes Agaricus blazei murill: a survey of Japanese consumers with cancer

James A Talcott1*, Jack A Clark2 and Insu P Lee3

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Outcomes Research, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

2 Center for Health Quality, Outcomes, and Economic Research, Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, Bedford, MA, and Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

3 Visiting Professor, Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, Graduate Faculty of Medical Sciences, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Japan

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2007, 7:32  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-7-32

Published: 29 October 2007

Abstract

Background

To survey cancer patients who consume an extract of the Basidiomycetes Agaricus blazei Murill mushroom (Sen-Sei-Ro) to measure their self-assessment of its effects and to develop an instrument for use in future randomized trials.

Methods

We designed, translated and mailed a survey to 2,346 Japanese consumers of Sen-Sei-Ro self-designated as cancer patients. The survey assessed consumer demographics, cancer history, Sen-Sei-Ro consumption, and its perceived effects. We performed exploratory psychometric analyses to identify distinct, multi-item scales that could summarize perceptions of effects.

Results

We received completed questionnaires from 782 (33%) of the sampled Sen-Sei-Ro consumers with a cancer history. Respondents represented a broad range of cancer patients familiar with Sen-Sei-Ro. Nearly all had begun consumption after their cancer diagnosis. These consumers expressed consistently positive views, though not extremely so, with more benefit reported for more abstract benefits such as emotional and physical well-being than relief of specific symptoms. We identified two conceptually and empirically distinct and internally consistent summary scales measuring Sen-Sei-Ro consumers' perceptions of its effects, Relief of Symptoms and Functional Well-being (Cronbach's alpha: Relief of Symptoms, α = .74; Functional Well-Being, α = .91).

Conclusion

Respondents to our survey of Sen-Sei-Ro consumers with cancer reported favorable perceived effects from its use. Our instrument, when further validated, may be a useful outcome in trials assessing this and other complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) substances in cancer patients.