BACKGROUND:There is increasing use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs), particularly amongst patients with cancer. This paper aims to better understand the types of CAM people are using and explore the reasons for using these approaches. This paper will also identify what patients want from health professionals in relation to CAM and the actions and attitudes of health professionals towards CAM. Finally, this paper will discuss the potential implications for health services. METHOD:Two surveys were conducted, a self-administered survey was completed by oncology patients; and a second online survey completed by staff. RESULTS:Patients used CAM as an adjunct to services they receive from conventional health services, not as an alternative. The positive and empowering role that complementary health practices play in people's lives was a common theme as was the need for CAM to be used with care. Survey responses by health care staff revealed mixed views of CAM. Most staff had positive views about CAM as a treatment adjunct and said they responded to patients accordingly. Only a minority expressed scepticism and were less inclined to support CAM use by their patients. Nevertheless, few staff instigated discussions around CAM. CONCLUSION:This paper presents key considerations for health services wanting to better respond to CAM and adopt an integrated approach to health care.