An observational study of patients receiving homeopathic treatment
Received21 October 2003
revised24 October 2003
accepted24 November 2003
12 December 2017 (online)
Background. Observational studies have recently contributed useful information to the debate about the utility of homeopathic treatment in everyday practice.
Aim. To gather data about routine homeopathic general practice.
Setting. Eighty general medical practices in Belgium where physicians were members of the Unio Homoeopathica Belgica.
Methods. All patients and their physicians visiting the practices on a specified day completed a questionnaire.
Results. A total of 782 patients presented with diseases of all major organ systems which were of sufficient severity to interfere with daily living in 78% of cases. Compared to previous conventional treatment, patients reported that consultations were much longer but costed less. One or more conventional drug treatments were discontinued in over half (52%) of the patients: CNS (including psychotropic) drugs (21%), drugs for respiratory conditions (16%) and antibiotics (16%). Conventional drugs were prescribed to about a quarter of patients (27%), mostly antibiotics and cardiovascular medication. The antibiotics were almost exclusively (95%) used to treat respiratory infections. Prescription costs (including conventional medicines) were one-third of the general practice average. Patients’ satisfaction with their homeopathic treatment was very high (95% fairly or very satisfied), and ratings of their previous treatment was much lower (20%). The great majority (89%) said that homeopathy had improved their physical condition; 8.5% said that it had made no difference, 2.4% said that homeopathy had worsened their condition. Physicians’ ratings of improvement were similar. Previous conventional treatment had improved 13% of patients, made no difference to 32%, and had worsened the condition of over half (55%). A similar pattern was seen for psychological symptoms.
Conclusions: Patients were very satisfied with their homeopathic treatment, both they and their physicians recorded significant improvement. Costs of homeopathic treatment were significantly lower than conventional treatment, and many previously prescribed drugs were discontinued.
- 1 Biolchini J. User study in homeopathic clinical practice: a fundamental tool for designing and improving a clinical information system. Br Hom J 2000; 89 (Suppl 1): S40.
- 2 van Haselen R. The challenge of homeopathic research: some solutions to its inherent complexity. Proceedings of Conference, Improving the Success of Homeopathy, Vol 4, April 2003, pp 21–28.
- 3 Rezzani CM. WinCHIP: computerised homeopathic investigation program: a data collection tool to help the doctor in daily practice to prove and improve homeopathy. Br Hom J 2000; 89 (Suppl 1): S41.
- 4 CORDIS. FP6: Coordination of Research Activities: Coordination at National level; ERA-NET Scheme.
- 5 Becker-Witt C, Keil T, Roll S, Menke D, Vance W, Wegscheider K, and Willich SN. Effectiveness and costs of homeopathy compared to conventional medicine—a prospective multicentre cohort study. Proceedings of Conference, Improving the Success of Homeopathy, Vol 4, April 2003, pp 57–60.
- 6 Trichard M, Chaufferin G. Cost-effectiveness study of treatment of recurrent acute rhinopharyngitis in 18 month-old to 4 year-old children by homeopathic general practitioners. Proceedings of Conference, Improving the Success of Homeopathy, Vol 4, April 2003, pp 43–49.
- 7 Steinsbekk A, Fønnebø V. Users of homeopaths in Norway in 1998, compared to previous users and GP patients. Homeopathy 2003; 92: 3–10.
- 8 Güthlin C, Walach H. The challenge of assessing the effects of homeopathy in real life practice. April 2003, Proceedings of Conference, Improving the Success of Homeopathy, Vol 4, pp 50–56.
- 9 Institut National d’Assurance Maladie et Invalidité - I.N.A.M.I. Ministère de la Santé Publique, Belgium.