This study evaluated the prevalence and demographic predictors of complementary therapy use in a sample of women with metastatic breast cancer.Information on the use of complementary therapies in patients with advanced-stage cancer is limited. Given the disease and treatment complexities associated with the care of patients with metastatic cancer, oncology clinicians would benefit from having an appreciation of the extent of usage of unconventional, adjunctive therapies among these patients.

Of the 173 participants, 78% used at least one type of complementary therapy, 43% used two or more types, and 23% used three or more types, excluding spiritual practices and physical exercise. When including spiritual practices and physical exercise, 90% used at least one complementary therapy, 70% used two or more types, and 45% used three or more types. Visits to alternative health practitioners were predicted by younger age (P = .009) and higher education level (P = .002). Younger participants (P = .045) were more likely to use and spend more money on vitamins and herbal products (P = .02).

Oncology providers need to assess patients’ complementary therapy use and consider potential interactions with prescribed treatment protocols.