Homeopathy as Praxis: Integration of Homeopathy as Supportive Care into Daily Life in Early Breast Cancer Patients

Introduction: Homeopathy is one of most widely used non-conventional supportive care methods used by women with breast cancer. This article aims to describe the routines and practices related to homeopathy as supportive care used by women with non-metastatic breast cancer in France. Methods: This qualitative study used Grounded Theory. Participants were women with early breast cancer and healthcare professionals (General Practitioner homeopaths & oncologists). Inclusion depended on specific criteria and the aim of theoretical sampling until data saturation. Data were collected through individual semi-structured interviews and focus groups following evolving topic guides. Transcribed interviews underwent in-depth thematic analysis. Inclusion, interviewing, transcription and coding occurred iteratively. Data was reported according to COREQ guidelines. Results: The therapeutic agency of homeopathy was distributed to different actors and ritualized material activities highly involving the patient. The choice of remedy was mostly delegated by patients to General Practitioner homeopaths (GPH) during consultations. Individualization, that is to say adaptation to the patient, differed from other modes of access to homeopathy (self-medication and oncologists). Self-medication was mostly limited to known products in a limited time frame. However, we identified a supported self-medication using trusted homeopathic protocols. Following homeopathic prescriptions involves a high level of commitment on behalf of the patient and follows different rules for homeopathy intake. This knowledge was either acquired earlier for users or discovered along breast cancer treatment for non-users. Taking homeopathy involved small daily actions for intake of different products at different times of the day. New users used strategies to ease the integration of homeopathy into their daily life. The stance toward such rules differed among patients. Some followed rules to optimize their effects while others simplified the rules and took those rituals as part of homeopathy benefits. Conclusion: Homeopathy as supportive care in breast cancer is distributed toward different actors and ritualized activities. Homeopathy is a supported practice where GPH played a role in the prescription. Health Literacy in homeopathy played a role to ease its integration into daily life and identify the potential benefits. The high involvement of patients in their homeopathic treatment is a form of treatment reappropriation and empowerment.

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