Communication predictors and consequences of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) discussions in oncology visits

Debra L. Roter, Kathleen J. Yost, Thomas O'Byrne, Megan Branda, Aaron Leppin, Brittany Kimball, Cara Fernandez, Aminah Jatoi, Ashok Kumbamu, Victor Montori, Barbara Koenig, Gail Geller, Susan Larson, Jon Tilburt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objective Cancer patients use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), but do not routinely talk about it with their clinicians. This study describes CAM discussions in oncology visits, the communication patterns that facilitate these discussions and their association with visit satisfaction. Methods 327 patients (58% female; average age 61) and 37 clinicians were recorded during an oncology visit and completed post-visit questionnaires. All CAM discussions were tagged and the Roter Interaction Analysis System (RIAS) was used to code visit dialogue. Results CAM was discussed in 36 of 327 visits; discussions were brief (< one minute), the majority patient initiated (65%) and more common for patients in early stages of cancer care. Longer visits (35 vs 29 min; p < 0.05), greater patient engagement in visit dialogue, lowered clinician verbal dominance and a more patient-centered pattern of visit communication were significantly related to visits with CAM discussions (all p values<0.01). Both patient and clinician visit satisfaction was higher with CAM discussion (p<0.05). Conclusions CAM discussions do not occur at random; they take place in visits characterized by patient-centered communication and are associated with higher visit satisfaction. Practice implications CAM discussions are perceived positively by both patients and clinicians and are facilitated by patient-centered visit communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1519-1525
Number of pages7
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Clinician satisfaction
  • Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Patient-physician communication
  • Roter Interaction Analysis System (RIAS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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