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1.  Mapping the risk perception and communication gap between different professions of healthcare providers in cancer care: a cross-sectional protocol 
BMJ Open  2015;5(9):e008236.
Studies show that patients with cancer who use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) have a poorer survival prognosis than those who do not. It remains unclear whether this is due to a priori poorer prognosis that makes patients turn to CAM, or whether there is a factor associated with CAM use itself that influences the prognosis negatively. Healthcare providers should assist patients in safeguarding their treatment decision. However, the current non-communication between CAM and conventional providers leaves it up to the patients themselves to choose how to best integrate the two worlds of therapy. In this study, an interactive shared decision-making (SDM) tool will be developed to enable patients and health professionals to make safe health choices.
Methods and analysis
We will delineate, compare and evaluate perception and clinical experience of communication of risk situations among oncology experts, general practitioners and CAM practitioners. To accomplish this, we will develop a pilot and implement a large-scale survey among the aforementioned health professionals in Norway. Guided by the survey results, we will develop a β-version of a shared decision-making tool for healthcare providers to use in guiding patients to make safe CAM decisions.
Ethics and dissemination
Participants must give their informed and written consent before inclusion. They will be informed about the opportunity to drop out from the study followed by deletion of all data registered. The study needs no approval from The Regional Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics because all participants are healthcare professionals. Results from this study will be disseminated in peer-reviewed medical journals.
PMCID: PMC4563259  PMID: 26338839
2.  Gender differences in prevalence and associations for use of CAM in a large population study 
Self-reported use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) varies widely from 10% to 75% in the general populations worldwide. When limited to use of a CAM provider 2% to 49% reported use is found. CAM use is believed to be closely associated with socio demographic variables such as gender, age, education, income and health complaints. However, studies have only occasionally differentiated CAM use according to gender. Therefore, the aim of the study presented here is to describe the prevalence of CAM use on the background of gender and to describe the specific characteristics of male and female users in the total Tromsø 6 population.
A total of 12,982 men and women aged 30–87 in the municipality of Tromsø, Norway went through a health screening program and completed two self-administered questionnaires in 2007/2008. The questionnaires were developed specifically for the Tromsø study and included questions about life style and health issues in addition to socio demographic variables.
A total of 33% of the participants reported use of any CAM within the last 12 months, women more often than men (42% and 24%, respectively). When limited to visits to a CAM provider, we found 17% use among women and 8% among men. The relationship between the demographic variables and being a CAM user differed significantly between men and women with regard to age, household income, and marital status. We did not find significant differences between men and women concerning education and self-reported health.
Findings from this study suggest that the prevalence and associations for use of CAM differ between men and women concerning several socio demographic variables (age, education and household income). Neglect of women’s health care needs in public health care may contribute to the fact that women to a higher degree than men turn to CAM and CAM products.
PMCID: PMC4265502  PMID: 25465676
CAM use; Norway; Gender differences; Population study; Prevalence
3.  A Patient-defined “Best Case” of Multiple Sclerosis Related to the Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine 
Chronically ill people are frequent users of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Some patients experience great benefits from their use of CAM, like patient “XX” in this case report. XX was diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis in 2004 and has reported a “best case” after the use of Dr Birgitta Brunes' unconventional treatment. The patient reports that many of her symptoms that, according to her neurologist, were irreversible are gone or have been greatly reduced. Such patient-defined “best cases” related to the use of CAM should be further explored to optimize and safeguard patients' treatment decisions and treatment outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3833471  PMID: 24278800
Multiple sclerosis; MS; complementary and alternative medicine; CAM; case report; exceptional cases; Norway
4.  The NAFKAM International Registry of Exceptional Courses of Disease Related to the Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine 
The increasing use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) represents a continuing demand for treatment approaches in parallel with, or as an alternative to, conventional healthcare delivery.1,2 Some patients report considerable health improvements related to their use of CAM,3–6 and others report no effect or possibly harm.7 Limited efforts have been made so far to systematically collect patients' personal experiences with various CAM therapies. Methods to collect “best cases” after the use of CAM in cancer patients have been initiated in the United States and Germany.5,8,9
PMCID: PMC3833485  PMID: 24278802
Norway; patient registry; NAFKAM; case reports; exceptional courses of disease; complementary and alternative medicine; CAM; medical assessments; safety
5.  Worst Cases Reported to the NAFKAM International Registry of Exceptional Courses of Disease 
PMCID: PMC3833488  PMID: 24278799
Registry; NAFKAM; Exceptional Courses of Disease; case reports; worst cases; Lightning Process; chronic fatigue syndrome; CFS; myalgic encephalomyelitis; ME; necrotizing vasculitis; homeopathy; sinusitis; prostatitis; hematologic cancer
6.  The Red flag! risk assessment among medical homeopaths in Norway: a qualitative study 
Homeopathy is widely used, and many European physicians practice homeopathy in addition to conventional medicine. Adverse effects in homeopathy are not expected by homeopaths due to the negligible quantities of active substances in a remedy. However, we questioned if homeopathic aggravation, which is described as a temporary worsening of existing symptoms following a correct homeopathic remedy, should be regarded as adverse effects or ruled out as desirable events of the treatment. In order to improve knowledge in an unexplored area of patient safety, we explored how medical homeopath discriminate between homeopathic aggravations and adverse effects, and how they assessed patient safety in medical practice.
A qualitative approach was employed using focus group interviews. Two interviews with seven medical homeopaths were performed in Oslo, Norway. The participants practiced homeopathy besides conventional medicine. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the text data. The codes were defined before and during the data analysis.
According to the medical homeopaths, a feeling of well-being may be a criterion to distinguish homeopathic aggravations from adverse effects. There was disagreement among the participants whether or not homeopathic treatment produced adverse effects. However, they agreed when an incorrect remedy was administrated, it may create a disruption or suppressive reaction in the patient. This was not perceived as adverse effects but a possibility to prescribe a new remedy as new symptoms emerge. This study revealed several advantages for the patients as the medical homeopaths looked for dangerous symptoms which may enhance safety. The patient was given time and space, which enabled the practitioner to see the complete picture. A more comprehensive toolkit gave the medical homeopaths a feeling of professionalism.
This explorative study investigated how Medical Homeopaths understood and assessed risk in their clinical practice. A feeling of well-being emerging soon after taking the remedy was the most important criterion for discriminating between Homeopathic Aggravations and Adverse Effects in clinical practice. The Medical Homeopaths used the view of both professions and always looked for red flag situations in the consultation room. They combined knowledge from two treatment systems which may have advantages for the patient. These tentative results deserve further research efforts to improve patient safety among users of homeopathy. For further research we find it important to improve and develop concepts that are unique to homeopathy in order to validate and modernize this medical practice.
PMCID: PMC3488491  PMID: 22967054
Homeopathy; Conventional medicine; Homeopathic aggravations; Adverse effects; Medical homeopaths; Patient safety; Risk assessment
7.  Understanding unexpected courses of multiple sclerosis among patients using complementary and alternative medicine: A travel from recipient to explorer 
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is frequently used by patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Some MS patients experience unexpected improvements of symptoms, which they relate to their use of CAM. The aim of this study was to obtain knowledge and develop understandings of such self-defined unexpected improvement of MS symptoms. Two cases were constructed based on documents and 12 qualitative interviews. Our aim was not to make generalisations from the cases, but to transfer knowledge as working hypotheses. We identified four health-related change processes: the process of losing bodily competence; the process of developing responsibility; the process of taking control; and the process of choosing CAM. The patients explained unexpected improvements in their MS symptoms as results of their own efforts including their choice and use of CAM. In our theoretical interpretations, we found the patients’ redefinition of history, the concept of treatment and the importance of conventional health care to be essential, and leading to a change of patients’ position towards conventional health care from recipients to explorers. The explorers can be perceived as boundary walkers reflecting limitations within the conventional health care system and as initiators regarding what MS patients find useful in CAM.
PMCID: PMC2900149  PMID: 20616888
Chronic illness; illness experience; complementary and alternative medicine; multiple sclerosis; coping; Norway

Results 1-7 (7)