Br Homeopath J 2000; 89(S 01): S23-S26
DOI: 10.1054/homp.1999.0375
Plenary Session
Copyright © The Faculty of Homeopathy 2000

The economic evaluation of complementary medicine: a staged approach at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital

R van Haselen
1  Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital, Great Ormond Street, London WC1N 3HR, UK
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Publication Date:
28 May 2018 (online)


Objective: The practical implementation of a staged, multifaceted research agenda for the economic evaluation of complementary medicine (CM) at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital (RLHH).

Method: The relative importance of economic evaluation as an evidence base of CM was assessed via a survey conducted with purchasers (n=481). The marginal costs of providing complementary care for patients with rheumatoid arthritis were calculated. The use, and changes in the use, of conventional medicines for patients’ main complaints were established retrospectively (n=499) and prospectively (n=70). Health-related quality of life (patient utility) of newly referred patients was assessed with the EQ-5D (EuroQol) instrument (n=70) on a 100 mm (0=worst, 100=best) scale.

Results: Economic evaluation was rated ‘important’ as an evidence base, after safety and RCT data (‘very important’). Consultation time (doctors and dietician) contributed 29% of the total costs of treating rheumatoid arthritis. The retrospective survey showed that many patients on conventional medication were able to stop (29%) or reduce (32%) intake in the course of treatment. The median (quartiles) health state of newly referred patients was 70 mm (50,78) in men and 60 mm (36,73) in women. Some results of an interim analysis of 6 months follow-up data are reported.

Conclusions: Economic evaluation of CM is becoming increasingly important and should take place by using a multifaceted, staged approach. Before embarking on randomised trials, observational data on cost, effectiveness and utility should be collected. The cost-effectiveness of CM appears to be most sensitive to the duration of the consultation.