|California State University – Sacramento
|Complementary alternative medicine (CAM); Music therapy; Art therapy; Massage therapy; Animal-assisted therapy
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This study explored medical social workers??? knowledge and willingness to refer cancer patients to innovative therapies or complimentary alternative therapies (CAM); including music, massage, art and animal assisted therapies. The complimentary therapies are used in addition to western medicine within a context of psychosocial support for the patient from a client-centered approach. This study used a non-probability sample of 24 social workers currently working in medical centers either as interns or as full time medical social workers. The study findings indicated that greater the willingness of the medical center to integrate innovative therapies, more the willingness of the social workers to refer their clients to such treatment modalities. Age was a factor in a social worker???s willingness to learn more about innovative therapies; social workers younger than 45 were willing to consider alternative therapies whereas social workers older than 46 were less likely to do so. There was no difference in their willingness to refer their clients to massage therapy between those who had utilized massage therapy personally and those social workers that did not use massage therapy personally. Majority (83.3%) of the social work interns reported that they had knowledge of animal assisted therapy whereas only 44.4% of MSW or LCSW???s has knowledge of animal assisted therapy and this medium association was approaching significance, at P<.06. There is statistical significance (p<.05) of the association between social workers desiring or not desiring to learn more about music therapy and the age group they belonged to with younger social workers desiring to know more about it. Recommendations include the need for regular training on CAM and other innovative treatment modalities to social workers in the medical setting. More research is needed to fully understand the barriers present for social workers as they consider appropriate innovative therapies in their treatment plans for cancer patients.