An Award to Examine the Extent of Alternative Therapy in Irish Cancer Treatment (The Alternative Therapy Scoping Award 2019)

Alternative cancer therapies are defined as ‘non-mainstream practices used in place of conventional medicine1 ’*. Despite the continually increasing survival rates associated with evidence-based medical treatments, there is now recognition of a growing problem with misinformation about cancer treatments which are not based on peer-established expertise as well as targeted advertisements for alternative cancer therapies, collectively impacting patient outcome.

Use of alternative cancer therapies can complicate the doctor-patient and doctor-carer relationships, posing serious risks and having serious health implications for cancer patients. Internationally, there is very little research on the extent and impact of this problem but, for example – findings from the US suggest that the mortality rate for patients diagnosed with cancer can be up to 5 times higher among those using alternative cancer therapies2 .

In the Republic of Ireland, there is limited available information on the patterns of alternative cancer therapy use. Given this deficit and in line with the Irish Cancer Society and national strategy, we aim to “inform and influence public policy” in relation to all aspects of cancer. With this in mind, the purpose of this call is to fund a research proposal to scope out and examine the extent of alternative therapy in Irish cancer treatment**.

The aim of the Alternative Therapy Scoping Award 2019 is to quantify the extent of alternative therapy use by cancer patients in the Republic of Ireland. This research will also seek to provide an insight into the types of alternative cancer therapies sought and/or used, as well as the underlying reasons, attitudes, opinions, characteristics, and motivational factors which influence cancer patients to seek and utilise alternative cancer therapies.

Please see the Guidelines for Applicants for more information.

* As a guide, alternative therapies can include diets, supplements, extracts, healing, and diagnostics advocated by individuals operating outside of a clinical scope of practice or conventional clinical guidance.

** For the purpose of this award, the research must primarily focus on alternative cancer therapies. However, applications focusing primarily on alternative cancer therapy but which also includes complementary cancer therapy usage will be accepted.

1 National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, Complementary, alternative, or integrative health: what's in a name? integrative-health, Accessed date: 07 June 2019.

2 Johnson SB Use of Alternative Medicine for Cancer and Its Impact on Survival. PMID: 28922780


The Alternative Therapy Scoping Award 2019 will provide funding of up to €65,000 for a project of up to a maximum of 12-24 months duration.. Funding for one award is available.

How to apply

Eligible applicants can submit an application through the Irish Cancer Society Grant Tracker online system.


Application deadline:

Submission deadline: 3pm Tuesday 13 August 2019

Related documents

For more information on eligibility criteria, funding etc please read the Guidelines for Applicants.

Date Last Reviewed: 
Tuesday, June 18, 2019