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Homeopathy in rural Australian primary health care: a survey of general practitioner referral and practice in rural and regional New South Wales, Australia

Wardle J, Adams J, Sibbritt D. Homeopathy in rural Australian primary health care: a survey of general practitioner referral and practice in rural and regional New South Wales, Australia. Homeopathy July 2013; 102(3): 199-206.

INTRODUCTION: Homeopathy has attracted considerable recent attention from the Australianconventional medical community. However, despite such increased attention there has been little exploration of the interface between homeopathy and Australian conventional medical practice. This article addresses this research gap by exploring homeopathic practice and referral by rural and regional Australian general practitioners (GPs).

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

A 27-item questionnaire was sent to all 1486 GPs currently practising in rural and regional New South Wales, Australia (response rate 40.7%).

RESULTS:

Few GPs in this study utilised homeopathy in their personal practice, with only 0.5% of GPs prescribing homeopathy in the past 12 months, and 8.5% referring patients for homeopathic treatment at least a few times over the past 12 months. Nearly two-thirds of GPs (63.9%) reported that they would not refer for homeopathy under any circumstances. Being in a remote location, receiving patient requests for homeopathy, observing positive responses from homeopathypreviously, using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners as information sources, higher levels of knowledge of homeopathy, and being interested in increasing CAM knowledge were all independently predictive of increased referral to homeopathy amongst GPs in this study. GPs in this study were less likely to refer to homeopathy if they used peer-reviewed literature as the major source of their information on CAM.

CONCLUSIONS:

Homeopathy is not integrated significantly in rural general practice either via GP utilisation or referral. There is significant opposition to homeopathy referral amongst rural and regional GPs, though some level of interaction with homeopathic providers exists.