Homeopathic medical practice: Long-term results of a cohort study
with 3981 patients
Claudia M Witt*1, Rainer Lüdtke2, Roland Baur1 and Stefan N Willich1
Address: 1Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité University Medical Center, D-10098 Berlin, Germany and
2Karl und Veronica CarstensFoundation, Am Deimelsberg 36, D-45276 Essen, Germany
Email: Claudia M Witt* - firstname.lastname@example.org; Rainer Lüdtke - email@example.com; Roland Baur - firstname.lastname@example.org;
Stefan N Willich - email@example.com
* Corresponding author
Published: 03 November 2005
BMC Public Health 2005, 5:115
Received: 09 May 2005
Accepted: 03November 2005
This article is available from: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/5/115
© 2005 Witt et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0),
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work isproperly cited.
Background: On the range of diagnoses, course of treatment, and long-term outcome in patients
who chose to receive homeopathic medical treatment very little is known. We investigated
homeopathic practice in an industrialized country under everyday conditions.
Methods: In a prospective, multicentre cohort study with 103 primary care practices with
additionalspecialisation in homeopathy in Germany and Switzerland, data from all patients (age >1
year) consulting the physician for the first time were observed. The main outcome measures were:
Patient and physician assessments (numeric rating scales from 0 to 10) and quality of life at baseline,
and after 3, 12, and 24 months.
Results: A total of 3,981 patients were studied including 2,851 adults (29% men, meanage 42.5 ±
13.1 years; 71% women, 39.9 ± 12.4 years) and 1,130 children (52% boys, 6.5 ± 3.9 years; 48% girls,
7.0 ± 4.3 years). Ninety-seven percent of all diagnoses were chronic with an average duration of
8.8 ± 8 years. The most frequent diagnoses were allergic rhinitis in men, headache in women, and
atopic dermatitis in children. Disease severity decreased significantly (p < 0.001) betweenbaseline
and 24 months (adults from 6.2 ± 1.7 to 3.0 ± 2.2; children from 6.1 ± 1.8 to 2.2 ± 1.9). Physicians'
assessments yielded similar results. For adults and young children, major improvements were
observed for quality of life, whereas no changes were seen in adolescents. Younger age and more
severe disease at baseline were factors predictive of better therapeutic success.
Conclusion:Disease severity and quality of life demonstrated marked and sustained
improvements following homeopathic treatment period. Our findings indicate that homeopathic
medical therapy may play a beneficial role in the long-term care of patients with chronic diseases.
Homeopathy is one of the most frequently used and controversial systems of complementary and alternative medicine. It isbased on the 'principle of similars', whereby
highly diluted preparations of substances that cause
symptoms in healthy individuals are used to stimulate
healing in patients who have similar symptoms when ill
. When a single homeopathic remedy is selected based
on a patient's total symptom picture, it is called 'classical'
homeopathy . According to a survey in the US , theproportion of patients obtaining homeopathic care has
quadrupled in the last seven years. A survey in Britain 
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estimated that annual expenditures reached £34.04 million (out-of-pocket £30.74 million, NHS £3.3 million).
For Germany, the country in which...