Arch Fam Med. 1998 Nov-Dec; 7(6): 537-40.
Patient characteristics and practice patterns of physicians using homeopathy.
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.