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Economic evaluations of homeopathy: a review
24 January 2018 (online)
Context : Economic evaluations of homeopathy are needed as part of the overall evidence-base of homeopathy. Such evaluations are of importance for patients, practitioners, policy makers and other stakeholders. Only limited evidence has been provided in previous reviews. There is a need to assess current research evidence of economic evaluations of homeopathy and to discuss recommendations for future research.
Objectives : To review and assess existing economic evaluations of homeopathy.
Methods : A review based on articles retrieved through databases and other sources. Databases used: AMED, Cochrane LIBRARY, CRD (DARE, NHS EED, HTA), EMBASE, MEDLINE. Other sources: Homeopathy (the journal), reference lists and contact with other authors.
Results : Sixteen economic evaluations of homeopathy fulfilling the inclusion criteria were identified. Studies included a total of 3.700 patients who received homeopathic treatment. Ten studies reported on control group participants. Ten out of 16 studies identified cost savings and health improvements. Four studies found improvements comparable to control group participants, at similar costs; and two studies at higher costs. Studies were highly heterogeneous and had several methodological weaknesses.
Conclusions : The overall evidence suggested cost savings and potential benefits of homeopathy. Studies did however have several methodological weaknesses and were highly heterogeneous, limiting the possibility to draw firm conclusions. We present recommendations for future research.