The SIO Clinical Practice Guidelines are the only comprehensive evidence-based guidelines for incorporating complementary and integrative therapies into conventional oncology clinical practice. The SIO Clinical Practice Guidelines are referenced in MedLine and are posted on the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website. The published guidelines are available at no charge.

Use of SIO Clinical Guidelines

The guidelines are not intended to remove the freedom of individual decision making, and the authors emphasize the importance of having degrees of freedom. It is useful, however, for clinicians to refer to these guidelines when making clinical choices with their patients. They will also be useful for quality assurance, clinical governance, and medical legislation and will provide indications for reimbursement that add value to clinical programs. They clearly illustrate the importance of multidisciplinary health care teams that jointly use their skills based on the expanding evidence base for integrative medicine. We hope that the guidelines will prevent inappropriate variation in clinical practice and underline the professional basis for integrative medicine. As such, this will provide a useful resource for all clinicians as well as administrators. So, why publish guidelines? These are tools, not rules. We need to formulate clinical decision making that is based on the best research evidence available, based on knowledge of relative safety and possible adverse effects, and that is economical compared with other interventions. One of the tenets of integrative oncology is to involve patients in the decision-making process, so we place emphasis on the clinical encounter and the safe integration of combined modalities that suit the patient's culture and belief system. However, economics includes not only financial costs but also the cost of missed opportunities and adverse events. It is imperative that all practitioners concerned for cancer patients have the knowledge and skills to design personalized programs that wisely support patients through their anticancer therapies. The consultation is an opportunity for education and must include clear guidance as to what is complementary and what is deemed alternative and, therefore, by definition, should be avoided. The guidelines clearly advocate evidence-based complementary therapies that support patients through their standard anticancer treatment, help reduce adverse effects, and improve their quality of life.

We are hopeful that the research will eventually show that using these evidence-based guidelines for integrative oncology will have economic advantages by supporting patients through their anticancer treatment, by teaching improved coping skills, by encouraging more rapid rehabilitation, and by teaching tertiary prevention strategies. By standardizing these approaches, we will be able to collect high-quality data that can be used to compare programs in various institutions and implement quality assurance.

Go to the Guidelines Page