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The Use of Dietary Supplements Among Individuals Enrolled in Clinical Trials for the Treatment of Cancer

Robertson, Linda Barry (2005) The Use of Dietary Supplements Among Individuals Enrolled in Clinical Trials for the Treatment of Cancer. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The use of dietary supplements by individuals with cancer is increasing. Many individuals with the diagnosis of cancer consume these supplements while undergoing treatment for cancer, including those enrolled in clinical trials. Clinical trials may involve the use of drugs or investigative agents, which are being studied to determine their safety and efficacy in the treatment of cancer.The focus of this study was to determine if individuals enrolled in clinical trials for the treatment of cancer use dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals and herbs) and the reasons why they are using them. The study's aims were (1) to document the use of dietary supplements among patients with breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer who are enrolled in a clinical trial, (2) to evaluate the perceptions of oncologists regarding their patients' use of dietary supplements, and (3) to evaluate the design of clinical trials to determine the proportion that specifically address the use of dietary supplements. The study employed an exploratory, descriptive design whereby 99 patients with cancer who were enrolled in a clinical trial for the treatment of cancer were interviewed. A total of 53 oncologists were surveyed and the design of 70 multi-institutional breast, prostate and colorectal cancer clinical trials were reviewed.The study findings indicate that patients with breast, prostate and colorectal cancer are consuming dietary supplements while enrolled in clinical treatment trials. In general, the reasons they are using the dietary supplements are to enhance their health and to do something to help themselves. The patients' perception is that they communicate this information to their oncologists, however, detailed information about the dietary supplements such as brand, type, dosage and frequency, is not routinely assessed and documented. In general, the design of the clinical trials did not specifically address the use of dietary supplements, and there were often discrepancies between the description in the study body and the accompanying case report forms.The importance of these findings from a public health perspective is that patients are consuming unregulated substances while enrolled in a clinical trial for the treatment of cancer and potentially may be at risk for drug interactions.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Robertson, Linda Barryrobertsonlk@upmc.eduLYNNPCI
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTrauth, Jeanette M.trauth@pitt.eduTRAUTH
Committee MemberRicci, Edmund M.emricci@pitt.eduEMRICCI
Committee MemberHerberman, Ronald
Committee MemberWieand, Samuel H.swieand@pitt.eduSWIEAND
Date: 8 July 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 2 June 2005
Approval Date: 8 July 2005
Submission Date: 10 June 2005
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: DrPH - Doctor of Public Health
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: cancer; clinical trials; dietary supplements; colorectal cancer; prostate cancer; breast cancer
Other ID:, etd-06102005-130729
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:46
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:36


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