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Research Article

Traditional Chinese herbal medicine and its effects on the quality of life of lung cancer patients: a meta-analysis

Amy Stewart


25 Nov 2016


18 Oct 2017


14 Nov 2017






Chinese, medicine, cancer, quality of life


Cases of lung cancer are increasing every year globally, with little improvement in survival rates. Therefore, the quality of life (QOL) of these patients is of increasing interest. This could mean that whilst undergoing treatment the impact on them both physically and mentally can be reduced from the stress of invasive and strong treatments. By looking at plants used medicinally in Traditional Chinese herbal Medicine (TCM), it is hoped that a source of QOL improvement can be found for patients. To investigate whether TCM could provide a source of new medicines that could improve QOL, a systematic literature search and meta-analysis was undertaken for randomized control trials published in this area. The quality and reliability of papers was also assessed to determine why further research has not yet been completed. This used a random effects model to take into account methodological differences when completing quantitative analysis. Heterogeneity analysis and publication bias of the included papers was also completed. A total of 1270 papers were initially screened with 10 being used in final analysis after applying exclusion and inclusion criteria. It was found that there was a small to medium summary Cohens D value of 0.33 (95% CI, −0.12, 0.78). However, the quality of these papers was found to be very poor leading to questions about their reliability and accuracy. There was also found to be a publication bias with only studies with statistically significant effects being published. In conclusion papers were poor quality and heterogeneity was high (I2 = 90.38%). Thus, making it difficult to determine if traditional Chinese herbal medicine has a beneficial effect on the quality of life of lung cancer patients and showing why research in this area has not been taken up more rapidly despite initial beneficial effects being found and discussed in research papers.

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