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Investigating Provers’ Experiences: A Qualitative Investigation of Participants’ Experiences of Homeopathic Pathogenetic Trials
05 February 2018 (online)
Introduction: Information on homeopathic medicines or remedies is derived from “Provings” or homeopathic pathogenic trials (HPTs) in which people (usually homeopaths and homeopathy students) are invited to take an unnamed, and often untested, homeopathic remedy and record in detail the effect the remedy has on them. A close examination of how HPTs are conducted begs the question: “Do HPTs meet research ethical standards?” HPTs are assumed to have an “excellent safety record,” but there is little discussion of provers’ experience or how ethical challenges are identified and addressed in the literature. There has been no research into the provers’ experience to date.
Method: This qualitative study interviewed eight former provers to explore their lived experience of participating in provings/HPTs. A semi-structured interview was used and transcripts will be analysed using thematic analysis.
Relevance of the Research: Professional guidelines (European Central Council for Homeopaths, 2009, LMHI/European Committee for Homeopathy 201 North American Network for Homeopathy Educators, 2011) mention existing ethical codes, such as the Nuremberg Code, the Declaration of Helsinki, and the International Declaration of Human Rights, but there is no information to verify if or how these are followed. The LMHI and European Committee for Homeopathy are currently revising their Proving Guidelines. The European Central Council for Homeopaths is participating in this work and will align its own guidelines accordingly. Findings from this study may inform the finalising of these guidelines.
Preliminary Findings: Provers report enthusiasm, a willingness to participate, and trust for the proving process. However, provers report adverse effects, which were surprising in intensity and duration. Support mechanisms, if in place, may fail or may not have been adequate. Consent forms were not always used. Future provings should consider how participants are informed on the possible adverse effects before participating and should ensure appropriate supervision and support is in place.
Keywords: Provers’ experience, human research, adverse effects, support, informed consent