J Altern Complement Med. 1997 Summer; 3(2): 141-7.
Researching complementary therapies: a Delphi study to identify the views of complementary and orthodox practitioners.
University of Southampton, United Kingdom.
Twenty five participants were invited to a workshop looking at the role of research and development in complementary therapies. These participants took part in a modified Delphi study to ascertain a consensus from their broad spectrum of views and see how those views changed over time. Opinions were sought about respondents' perceptions of complementary therapies, the type and scope of research needed, and how such research should be coordinated. The workshop, arranged by the Regional Health Authority, included orthodox and complementary practitioners, purchasers, providers and academics. Questionnaires were administered at the beginning and end of the workshop and 6 months later. The group was small and potentially positively biased, having both pre-existing knowledge and interest in complementary therapies. In consensus, the more mainstream complementary therapies of osteopathy, acupuncture, and homeopathy were perceived to be the most beneficial to patients, and therefore, most likely to be recommended as treatments. These were also felt to be the priority areas for research. For some unknown reason homeopathy had lost its popularity in ranking 6 months later. The respondents agreed that research into complementary therapies was needed and ideally should be collaborative between practitioners, professional bodies, and academics. The workshop appeared to produce some changes in knowledge that were not always maintained over time. It was, however, formative in the decision of the Regional Health Authority to allocate research funding into complementary therapies.