Homeopathy :: statistics & numerical data
Homeopathy. 2011 Oct ;100 (4):212-9 21962195
Scuola Superiore di Studi Universitari e Perfezionamento Sant'Anna di Pisa, Italy.
OBJECTIVE To test a methodology to evaluate, at population level, the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment through standard objective public health indicators. METHODS AND SETTINGS: Indicators of hospitalization and drug use were obtained from the Health Statistical Documentation System of Tuscany for two homeopathic centers in the Local Health Authority of Pisa, Italy. We compared homeopathic users with the general population in the same area and by comparing patients before and after homeopathic treatment. RESULTS The homeopathic patients used less drugs than the reference population, this effect was more evident for patients with repeated homeopathic consultations. A significant decrease in drug use was found on comparing the same patients before and after homeopathic treatment. Hospitalization indicators tended to favour patients who had received homeopathic treatment but were not always statistically significant. CONCLUSIONS This paper demonstrates a new methodological approach to assess the effectiveness of a therapeutic modality, without ad-hoc clinical trials. This methodology can be used by public health institutions in which non-conventional medicines are integrated into the public health care system.
Most cited papers:
Department of Complementary Medicine, School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom. MHPittler@exeter.ac.uk
To systematically investigate location bias of controlled clinical trials in complementary/alternative medicine (CAM). Methods: Literature searches were performed to identify systematic reviews and meta-analyses, which were used to retrieve controlled clinical trials. Trials were categorised by whether they appeared in CAM-journals or mainstream medical (MM)-journals, and by their direction of outcome, methodological quality, and sample size. Results: 351 trials were analysed. A predominance of positive trials was seen in non-impact factor CAM- and MM-journals,(58)/(78)(74%) and (76)/(102)(75%) respectively, and also in low impact factor CAM- and MM-journals. In high impact factor MM-journals there were equal numbers of positive and negative trials, a distribution significantly (P < 0.05) different from all other journal categories. Quality scores were significantly lower for positive than negative trials in non-impact factor CAM-journals (P < 0.02). A similar trend was seen in low-impact factor CAM journals, but not to a level of significance (P = 0.06). There were no significant differences between quality scores of positive and negative trials published in MM-journals, except for high impact factor journals, in which positive trials had significantly lower scores than negative trials (P = 0.048). There was no difference between positive and negative trials in any category in terms of sample size. Conclusion: More positive than negative trials of complementary therapies are published, except in high-impact factor MM-journals. In non-impact factor CAM-journals positive studies were of poorer methodological quality than the corresponding negative studies. This was not the case in MM-journals which published on a wider range of therapies, except in those with high impact factors. Thus location of trials in terms of journal type and impact factor should be taken into account when the literature on complementary therapies is being examined.
Evidence of clinical efficacy of homeopathy. A meta-analysis of clinical trials. HMRAG. Homeopathic Medicines Research Advisory Group.
Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Hospitals of Lyon and University Claude Bernard, France. firstname.lastname@example.org
OBJECTIVE To establish, using a systematic review and meta-analysis, whether there is any evidence from randomised controlled clinical trials of the efficacy of homeopathic treatment in patients with any disease. DATA SOURCES Published and unpublished reports of controlled clinical trials available up to June 1998, identified by searching bibliographic databases (Medline, Embase, Biosis, PsychInfo, Cinahl, British Library Stock Alert Service, SIGLE, Amed), references lists of selected papers, hand searching homeopathic journals and conference abstracts, and contacting pharmaceutical companies. TRIALS SELECTION: Trials were selected using an unblinded process by two reviewers. The selection criteria were randomised, controlled trials in which the efficacy of homeopathic treatment was assessed relative to placebo in patients using clinical or surrogate endpoints. Prevention trials or those evaluating only biological effects were excluded. One hundred and eighteen randomised trials were identified and evaluated for inclusion. Sixteen trials, representing 17 comparisons and including a total of 2,617 evaluated patients, fulfilled the inclusion criteria. DATA EXTRACTION Data were extracted by two reviewers independently, using a summary form. Disagreements were resolved by a third person. DATA SYNTHESIS The evidence was synthesised by combining the significance levels (P values) for the primary outcomes from the individual trials. The combined P value for the 17 comparisons was highly significant P = 0.000036. However, sensitivity analysis showed that the P value tended towards a non-significant value (P = 0.08) as trials were excluded in a stepwise manner based on their level of quality. CONCLUSIONS There is some evidence that homeopathic treatments are more effective than placebo; however, the strength of this evidence is low because of the low methodological quality of the trials. Studies of high methodological quality were more likely to be negative than the lower quality studies. Further high quality studies are needed to confirm these results.
Homeopathic treatment for chronic disease: a 6-year, university-hospital outpatient observational study.
United Bristol Healthcare, National Health Service Trust, Bristol, United Kingdom. David.Spence@ubht.nhs.uk
OBJECTIVE The aim of this study was to assess health changes seen in routine homeopathic care for patients with a wide range of chronic conditions who were referred to a hospital outpatient department. DESIGN This was an observational study of 6544 consecutive follow-up patients during a 6-year period. SETTING Hospital outpatient unit within an acute National Health Service (NHS) Teaching Trust in the United Kingdom. PARTICIPANTS Every patient attending the hospital outpatient unit for a follow-up appointment over the study period was included, commencing with their first follow-up attendance. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE Outcomes were based on scores on a 7-point Likert-type scale at the end of the consultation and were assessed as overall outcomes compared to the initial baseline assessments. RESULTS A total of 6544 consecutive follow-up patients were given outcome scores. Of the patients 70.7%(n = 4627) reported positive health changes, with 50.7%(n = 3318) recording their improvement as better (+2) or much better (+3). CONCLUSIONS Homeopathic intervention offered positive health changes to a substantial proportion of a large cohort of patients with a wide range of chronic diseases. Additional observational research, including studies using different designs, is necessary for further research development in homeopathy.
Department of Complementary Medicine, School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, U.K. email@example.com
Complementary medicine (CM) is more popular than ever before. Dermatology has not remained unaffected by this trend. The aim of this systematic review was to summarize all surveys of dermatological patients regarding the usage of CM. Three independent literature searches were carried out. Data were extracted in a predefined, standardized way and evaluated descriptively. Seven surveys met the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Collectively they show a high but variable prevalence of CM. Lifetime prevalence ranged from 35 to 69%. The most frequently used treatment modalities comprise homoeopathy, herbalism and food supplements. With this high level of prevalence, research into the potential risks and benefits of CM is urgently needed. Dermatologists should consider discussing CM openly with their patients.
Faculty of Homeopathy, 15 Clerkenwell Close, London, EC1R 0AA, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org
BACKGROUND The claims made for the clinical effects of homeopathy are controversial. The results of several meta-analyses of clinical trials are positive, but they fail in general to highlight specific medical conditions that respond well to homeopathy. AIMS This review examines the cumulative research from randomised and/or double-blind clinical trials (RCTs) in homeopathy for individual medical conditions reported since 1975, and asks the question: What is the weight of the original evidence from published RCTs that homeopathy has an effect that is statistically significantly different from that in a comparative group? METHOD Analysis of the 93 substantive RCTs that compare homeopathy either with placebo or another treatment. RESULTS 50 papers report a significant benefit of homeopathy in at least one clinical outcome measure, 41 that fail to discern any inter-group differences, and two that describe an inferior response with homeopathy. Considering the relative number of research articles on the 35 different medical conditions in which such research has been carried out, the weight of evidence currently favours a positive treatment effect in eight: childhood diarrhoea, fibrositis, hayfever, influenza, pain (miscellaneous), side-effects of radio- or chemotherapy, sprains and upper respiratory tract infection. Based on published research to date, it seems unlikely that homeopathy is efficacious for headache, stroke or warts. Insufficient research prevents conclusions from being drawn about any other medical conditions. CONCLUSIONS The available research evidence emphasises the need for much more and better-directed research in homeopathy. A fresh agenda of enquiry should consider beyond (but include) the placebo-controlled trial. Each study should adopt research methods and outcome measurements linked to a question addressing the clinical significance of homeopathy's effects.
Center for Holistic Pediatric Education and Research, Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass 02115, USA.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the practice characteristics and pediatric care of homeopathic practitioners (HPs) and naturopathic doctors (NDs). DESIGN: Cross-sectional, descriptive survey. SETTING: Homeopathic and naturopathic practices in Massachusetts. PARTICIPANTS: Homeopathic practitioners (N = 42) and NDs (N = 23) identified from the yellow pages, regional and national society membership lists, schools, magazine advertisements, and by word-of-mouth. The response rate was 55%(23/42) for HPs and 65%(15/23) for NDs. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Demographics, practice characteristics, fee structure, and amount of pediatric care. Practitioners were asked for their approach to childhood immunizations and to treating a febrile neonate. Data were analyzed using simple descriptive statistics. RESULTS: Almost all respondents were white. Among the HPs, 13 (57%) were licensed medical doctors. Naturopathic doctors and HPs reported having an average of only 25 to 40 patient visits per week, but children and adolescents accounted for up to one third of these visits. Nearly all reported treating children, but fewer than half of the practitioners reported any formal pediatric training. Initial patient visits typically lasted more than 1 hour and cost $140 to $150. Follow-up visits were scheduled every 4 to 6 weeks and lasted more than 30 minutes on average. Insurance covered less than one third of the patient visits, and sliding scale payments were offered by less than half of the respondents. Most practitioners reported that they did not actively recommend immunizations and fewer than half of the nonphysician practitioners reported that they would refer a 2-week-old neonate with a fever to a medical doctor or emergency medical facility. CONCLUSIONS: Many patients using homeopathy and naturopathy are children. Visits to these providers are frequent and fees are primarily paid out-of-pocket. Failure on the part of these providers to recommend immunizations or recognize potentially serious illnesses is cause for concern.
University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Seattle, USA.
BACKGROUND: The use of homeopathy is growing in the United States, but little is known about practice patterns of physicians using homeopathy and the patients who seek homeopathic care. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Data for consecutive patient visits to 27 doctors of medicine and doctors of osteopathy using homeopathy in 1992 were collected and compared with the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey of 1990. RESULTS: Patients seen by the homeopathic physicians were younger, more affluent, and more likely to present with long-term complaints. Physicians using homeopathic medicine surveyed spent more time with their patients, ordered fewer tests, and prescribed fewer pharmaceutical medications than physicians practicing conventional medicine. CONCLUSIONS: While definite conclusions cannot be made based on this survey, we have documented that the use of diagnostic testing and conventional medications by physicians who use homeopathy to treat common chronic conditions is well below that of conventional primary care physicians. These findings, if associated with comparable clinical outcomes, suggest a potential for substantial cost savings. Further studies documenting outcomes, cost benefits, physician decision-making, and patient satisfaction will be required to further explore this subject.
Department of Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is used by some patients to supplement their health care. Information on the use of CAM in children who are not chronically ill is sparse. We conducted a survey of caregivers presenting to a tertiary pediatric Emergency Department to determine CAM use in this population. Six hundred twenty questionnaires (77.6% of those distributed) were available for analysis. Approximately 13% of caregivers reported using CAM for their child. The most common CAM therapies used were homeopathy (20%), prayer/spiritual approaches (19.7%), and massage therapy (16.7%). Age of child greater than 1 year was associated with CAM use (p < 0.05), as was parental higher education (p < 0.0001). Income, ethnicity, parental age, and chronic illness were not correlated with CAM use. CAM therapies are infrequently used in pediatric patients presenting to the Emergency Department.
Patients' assessments of the effectiveness of homeopathic care in Norway: a prospective observational multicentre outcome study.
Department of Public Health and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway. email@example.com
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the patient reported effects of homeopathic care 6 months after first consultations. METHODS: Prospective uncontrolled observational multicentre outcome study. All patients visiting 80 homeopaths all over Norway for the first time in eight different time periods from 1996 to 1998 were approached. Patients wrote down their main complaint and scored its impact on daily living on a 100 mm Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) at the first consultation. Six months later they were asked to score again. The homeopaths recorded treatments given for up to two follow-up consultations. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Predefined as a reduction of at least 10 mm in the VAS score between the first consultation and follow-up. RESULT: Patients 1097 were recruited, 654 completed the follow-up questionnaire. The main complaint improved by at least 10mm on the VAS for 71%(95% confidence interval 67-74%) of patients. The average reduction was 32mm (95% CI 30-35 mm). Fifty-one per cent (95% CI 48-55%) of the patients had an improvement in their general well being of more than 10 mm. The mean reduction in the whole group was 14mm (95% CI 12-16 mm). The proportion of patients using conventional medication reduced from 39% to 16%. Regression analysis showed that lower age and higher baseline score were predictors of better outcome. CONCLUSION: In this study, seven out of ten patients visiting a Norwegian homeopath reported a meaningful improvement in their main complaint 6 months after the initial consultation.