5 years ago

An investigation into the usability of a drug-complementary medicines interactions database in a consumer group of women with breast cancer

Kylie O'Brien, Amber Moore, Sally Percival-Smith, Sitalakshmi Venkatraman, Vesna Grubacevic, Jane Scoble, Leslie Gilham, Tricia Greenway, Keryn Coghill, Janet Wale


It is known that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use can be high in people with cancer. Despite a plethora of information about CAMs on the internet, reliable, evidence-based information about potential interactions between CAMs and pharmaceuticals is not readily accessible to consumers. An online pharmaceutical-CAM interactions database, IMgateway, designed for healthcare practitioners, has begun to be adapted for consumer use. We sought to assess the usability of the IMgateway and investigate perceptions and behaviour of breast cancer patients in relation to CAMs.


An online survey was conducted in members of the Review and Survey Group of the Breast Cancer Network of Australia. Part 1 included questions about CAM use/perceptions. Part 2 required participants to work through a concurrent drug-CAM scenario using IMgateway then answer questions on usability. Quantitative analysis (closed questions) and qualitative analysis (open-ended questions) was conducted (qualitative using thematic analysis with NVivo v11).


202 females completed the survey. After diagnosis, 57% respondents changed their CAM use; most common reasons were advice from their doctor/oncologist, to assist with side effects and as prevention/wellbeing enhancement. 45% believed concurrent pharmaceutical and CAM use was safe; an equal percentage were unsure. 73% indicated concern about potential interactions when specifically asked. In the scenario task, a correct response rate was almost 80% for two scenarios but only around 50% for the other two. 71% found IMgateway either useful/very useful to ascertain safety of a particular CAM/pharmaceutical combination and more than 50% indicated they were confident making an informed choice.


With refinement the database has potential to empower consumers to be proactive in management of their health conditions, including mitigating risks associated with potential pharmaceutical-CAM interactions.

Publisher URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1876382019309084

DOI: 10.1016/j.eujim.2019.101004

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