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What is it about homeopathy that patients value? and what can family medicine learn from this?

Schmacke N, Muller V, Stamer M. What is it about homeopathy that patients value? And what can family medicine learn from this? Qual Prim Care. 2014;22:17-24.

BACKGROUND: Homeopathy is one of the most frequently used areas of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Previous research has focused in particular on the pharmacological effectiveness of homeopathy. There is intense discussion among German family medical practitioners as to whether family medicine should adopt elements of homeopathy because of the popularity of this treatment method.

AIM:

For the first time in Germany, patients with chronic conditions were asked about their views on the medical care provided by homeopathic medical practitioners.

METHODS:

The survey used questionnaire-based, semi-structured expert interviews, the contents of which were then analysed and summarised.

RESULTS:

A total of 21 women and five men aged from 29 to 75 years were surveyed. The 'fit' between therapist and patient proved to be particularly important. Both the initial homeopathic consultation and the process of searching for the appropriate medication were seen by patients as confidence-inspiring confirmations of the validity of homeopathic therapy which they considered desirable in this personalised form.

CONCLUSION:

The possible adoption by family medicine of elements of homeopathy may be seen as controversial, but this study again indicates the vital importance of successful communication to ensure a sustainable doctor-patient relationship. Advances in this sector not only require continuous efforts in the areas of medical training and professional development, but also touch on basic questions relating to the development of effective medical care, such as those currently being discussed in the context of the 'patient-centred medical home'.