Developing an Integrative Treatment Program for Cancer-Related Fatigue Using Stakeholder Engagement – A Qualitative Study

Claudia Canella*, Michael Mikolasek, Matthias Rostock, Jörg Beyer, Matthias Guckenberger, Josef Jenewein, Esther Linka, Claudia Six, Sarah Stoll, Roger Stupp, Claudia M. Witt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Although cancer-related fatigue (CRF) has gained increased attention in the past decade, it remains difficult to treat. An integrative approach combining conventional and complementary medicine interventions seems highly promising. Treatment programs are more likely to be effective if the needs and interests of the people involved are well represented. This can be achieved through stakeholder engagement. Objectives: The aim of the study was to develop an integrative CRF treatment program using stakeholder engagement and to compare it to an expert version. Method: In a qualitative study, a total of 22 stakeholders (4 oncologists, 1 radiation-oncologist, 1 psycho-oncologist, 5 nurses/nurse experts, 9 patients, 1 patient family member, 1 representative of a local Swiss Cancer League) were interviewed either face-to-face or in a focus group setting. For data analysis, qualitative content analysis was used. Results: With stakeholder engagement, the integrative CRF treatment program was adapted to usual care using a prioritizing approach and allowing more patient choice. Unlike the expert version, in which all intervention options were on the same level, the stakeholder engagement process resulted in a program with 3 different levels. The first level includes mandatory nonpharmacological interventions, the second includes nonpharmacological choice-based interventions, and the third includes pharmacological interventions for severe CRF. The resulting stakeholder based integrative CRF treatment program was implemented as clinical practice guideline at our clinic (Institute for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, University Hospital Zurich). Conclusion: Through the stakeholder engagement approach, we integrated the needs and preferences of people who are directly affected by CRF. This resulted in an integrative CRF treatment program with graded recommendations for interventions and therefore potentially greater sustainability in a usual care setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)762-773
Number of pages12
JournalIntegrative Cancer Therapies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • cancer-related fatigue
  • complementary medicine
  • integrative treatment program
  • qualitative study
  • stakeholder engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Oncology


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