Homeopathy in rural Australian primary health care: a survey of general practitioner referral and practice in rural and regional New South Wales, Australia
Received23 October 2012
revised02 March 2013
accepted13 March 2013
18 December 2017 (online)
Introduction: Homeopathy has attracted considerable recent attention from the Australian conventional medical community. However, despite such increased attention there has been little exploration of the interface between homeopathy and Australian conventional medical practice. This article addresses this research gap by exploring homeopathic practice and referral by rural and regional Australian general practitioners (GPs).
Materials and methods: A 27-item questionnaire was sent to all 1486 GPs currently practising in rural and regional New South Wales, Australia (response rate 40.7%).
Results: Few GPs in this study utilised homeopathy in their personal practice, with only 0.5% of GPs prescribing homeopathy in the past 12 months, and 8.5% referring patients for homeopathic treatment at least a few times over the past 12 months. Nearly two-thirds of GPs (63.9%) reported that they would not refer for homeopathy under any circumstances. Being in a remote location, receiving patient requests for homeopathy, observing positive responses from homeopathy previously, using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners as information sources, higher levels of knowledge of homeopathy, and being interested in increasing CAM knowledge were all independently predictive of increased referral to homeopathy amongst GPs in this study. GPs in this study were less likely to refer to homeopathy if they used peer-reviewed literature as the major source of their information on CAM.
Conclusions: Homeopathy is not integrated significantly in rural general practice either via GP utilisation or referral. There is significant opposition to homeopathy referral amongst rural and regional GPs, though some level of interaction with homeopathic providers exists.
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