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Characteristics of patients consulting their regular primary care physician according to their prescribing preferences for homeopathy and complementary medicine

Lert F, Grimaldi-Bensouda L, Rouillon F, Massol J, Guillemot D, Avouac B, Duru G, Magnier AM, Rossignol M, Abenhaim L, Begaud B, EPI3-LA-SER Group. Characteristics of patients consulting their regular primary care physician according to their prescribing preferences for homeopathy and complementary medicine. Homeopathy. 2014;103(1):51-7.

BACKGROUND: Homeopathic care has not been well documented in terms of its impact onpatients' utilization of drugs or other complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). The objective of this study was to describe and compare patients who visit physicians in general practice (GPs) who prescribe only conventional medicines (GP-CM), regularly prescribe homeopathy within a mixed practice (GP-Mx), or are certified homeopathic GPs (GP-Ho).

MATERIAL AND METHODS:

The EPI3-LASER study was a nationwide observational survey of a representative sample of GPs and their patients from across France. Physicians recorded their diagnoses and prescriptions on participating patients who completed a self-questionnaire on socio-demographics, lifestyle, quality of life Short Form 12 (SF-12) and the complementary and alternative medicine beliefs inventory (CAMBI).

RESULTS:

A total of 6379 patients (participation rate 73.1%) recruited from 804 GP practices participated in this survey. Patients attending a GP-Ho were slightly more often female with higher education than in the GP-CM group and had markedly healthier lifestyle. They did not differ greatly in their comorbidities or quality of life but exhibited large differences in their beliefs in holistic medicine and natural treatments, and in their attitude toward participating to their own care. Similar but less striking observations were made in patients of the GP-Mx group.

CONCLUSION:

Patients seeking care with a homeopathic GP did not differ greatly in their socio-demographic characteristics but more so by their healthier lifestyle and positive attitude toward CAM. Further research is needed to explore the directionality of those associations and to assess the potential economic benefits of homeopathic management in primary care.