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Comment & Response
January 24, 2019

Methodology Flaws and Implications of a Complementary Medicine Study

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
JAMA Oncol. 2019;5(3):430-431. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.6625

To the Editor I congratulate Johnson and colleagues1 on their study in which they compared the overall survival rates, adherence to treatment, and characteristics of patients with cancer receiving conventional cancer treatment (CCT) with complementary medicine (CM) with those who did not receive CM. However, the authors did not clearly provide or refer to definitions of CM and alternative medicine. Indeed, they mentioned that patients who receive alternative medicine and CM behave similarly; however, there was no reference provided for this statement. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, CM is used along with conventional medicine, whereas alternative medicine is used instead of CCT.2 Johnson and colleagues1 used the term CM throughout their article when they were referring to alternative medicine. There has been a long debate about CM, alternative medicine, and CCT in the health care system. Yet, CM has been monitored by the national health regulatory authorities in Europe and the United States.3 None of these health regulatory authorities have supported the use of alternative medicine, and they only refer to nonconventional treatments as CM. The lack of clarity between CM and alternative medicine in the article by Johnson and colleagues1 may cause confusion in the international health communities.