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Complementary therapy in palliative care: A synthesis of qualitative and quantitative systematic reviews

Armstrong, M; Kupeli, N; Flemming, K; Stone, P; Wilkinson, S; Candy, B; (2020) Complementary therapy in palliative care: A synthesis of qualitative and quantitative systematic reviews. Palliative Medicine 10.1177/0269216320942450. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Interventions delivered in palliative care are complex and their evaluation through qualitative and quantitative research can lead to contrasting results. In a systematic review of trials, the effectiveness results of complementary therapies in palliative care were inconclusive; however, our qualitative synthesis showed participants perceived them to be beneficial. AIM: Use a novel methodology to synthesise evidence from qualitative and quantitative systematic reviews on complementary therapy in palliative care to explore the following: (1) If interventions delivered in trials reflect how participants in qualitative studies report they are delivered in real-life settings and (2) whether quality of life measures used in trials capture perceived benefits that are reported in qualitative studies. METHODS: Two matrix tables were formulated. In one, key components in delivery of the complementary therapy from the qualitative synthesis which are as follows: (1) relationship with therapist, (2) comfortable environment, (3) choices (e.g. area of massage) and (4) frequent sessions, were plotted against intervention description, to explore matches and mismatches. In the other, items included in quality of life scales were compared with perceived benefits of complementary therapy. RESULTS: None of the trials included all four key delivery components. The five quality of life scales used in the trials failed to capture the range of perceived benefits from the complementary therapies and many included inappropriate or redundant items. CONCLUSIONS: By integrating qualitative and quantitative review data, we determined the reasons trials may be inconclusive. This methodological exemplar provides a framework for understanding complexity in outcomes across trials and a direction for future research.

Type: Article
Title: Complementary therapy in palliative care: A synthesis of qualitative and quantitative systematic reviews
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0269216320942450
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/0269216320942450
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
Keywords: Complementary therapy, aromatherapy, massage, palliative, quality of life, reflexology, synthesis, systematic review
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Primary Care and Population Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106018
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