A Qualitative Investigation of Provers' Experiences of Participation in Homeopathic Pathogenetic TrialsFunding None.
05 May 2019
15 October 2019
12 February 2020 (online)
Background Information on homeopathic medicines is derived from “provings” or homeopathic pathogenetic trials (HPTs), in which people (often homeopaths and homeopathy students) are invited to take an unnamed and often untested highly diluted and serially succussed substance, and record in detail their experiences and perceived effects. HPTs are assumed to have an “excellent safety record”, but there has been no academic research to date into provers' experiences of participating in an HPT.
Aims This qualitative study aimed to explore the lived experience of participation in an HPT. It is hoped that the results from this study will inform the future conduct of HPTs.
Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted in person, by phone or via Skype, according to the interviewees' preferences. Thematic analysis was used for the generation of themes.
Results Eight former provers were interviewed from across the European Union (EU) and Australia. Of these, seven were practicing homeopaths and one was not a practitioner. Overarching themes were identified as: (1) the ethical conduct of HPTs, and (2) the impact of participation in HPTs.
Conclusion Former provers who participated in this study reported enthusiasm for, and trust in, the proving process. However, some also reported adverse events, which varied in intensity and duration. The process of gaining fully informed consent for participation in an HPT is complex and there were examples of both failure and inadequacy in terms of informed consent and support mechanisms.
Recommendations The researchers recommend that HPTs are subject to ethical approval processes and that consent is fully informed and ongoing. It is also recommended that appropriate and robust support mechanisms be developed.
Keywordsqualitative research - homeopathy - participants' experiences - provers and provings - informed consent - support mechanisms - homeopathic pathogenetic trial
• This is the first qualitative study exploring provers' experiences of participation in HPTs.
• HPTs are recognized as being of value to the homeopathy community and to the therapy's knowledge base.
• Former provers described a lack of clear information prior to and during their participation in HPTs.
• Given the unpredictable nature of an HPT, the issue of informed consent is complex and requires careful consideration.
• This is a small study and more research is needed into HPT participants' experiences, preferably drawn from a wider group of former provers.
The research for this article was conducted in partial fulfilment of an MSc Integrated Healthcare at the University of Central Lancashire by the primary researcher, ZD, under the supervision of co-authors HP and JD. All members of the research team have experience of studying, practicing, and teaching homeopathy.
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