Quality of life, symptom experience, and use of complementary and alternative medicine among women with ovarian cancer

Kavita D Chandwani, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The objectives of this dissertation were to determine the quality of life in women with ovarian cancer and the association of their physical and emotional well-being with the number of symptoms, duration of symptoms, and the scores of common symptoms of ovarian cancer; to study the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine techniques for symptom relief and its association with the number of symptoms, age, education, insurance, comorbidity, and satisfaction with medical care they received, and their pre-diagnostic experience of symptoms. This study was based on a secondary data analysis of a study of early detection of ovarian cancer. A sample of 139 women with ovarian cancer was recruited and was administered a questionnaire comprised of questions on their quality of life, their symptoms and what they did about the symptoms, whether they used any complementary and alternative medicine techniques, and other medical conditions they had. Out of this sample, 53 patients underwent in-depth interviews relating to their symptoms before the diagnosis and their experiences with the health care system leading to the ovarian cancer diagnosis. In article #1, ovarian cancer patients were observed to have significantly poorer quality of life on all subscales and summary scores except pain, compared to that of the general population of US women. Physical well-being scores were negatively associated with the number of symptoms before diagnosis and a significant negative association of comorbidity index was observed with physical well-being. Higher education and increase in time since diagnosis was found to have better physical scores. Emotional well-being scores showed marginally significant associations with number of symptoms and bloating. In article #2, a thematic content analysis of the ovarian cancer patients’ interviews revealed that on recognition of their symptoms women first assumed their symptoms to be a normal transient occurrence due to a pre-existing disease condition, or due to some other disease. A series of misattributions of their symptoms on their and their doctors’ part impacted their health care seeking.In article #3, a significantly greater likelihood of CAM use with an increase in the number of symptoms was observed. Based on the foregoing results, it is important to educate women on possible signs of ovarian cancer and also to educate doctors about the results of current research regarding ovarian cancer diagnosis. This will help to avoid a delay in getting a diagnosis and improve women’s quality of life. It emphasizes the diagnosis of ovarian cancer in earlier stages by more sensitive screening techniques. This study emphasizes the importance of consideration of comorbidity in any quality of life research. Additionally, educating women in the safe use of CAM techniques carries immense significance because the efficacy and safety of many of the currently advertized CAM products has not been scientifically validated. Further research is needed to confirm the findings of this study.

Subject Area

Alternative Medicine|Behavioral Sciences|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Chandwani, Kavita D, "Quality of life, symptom experience, and use of complementary and alternative medicine among women with ovarian cancer" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3433341.