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BMC Public Health. 2004 Mar 4;4:6.

Measuring the effects of acupuncture and homoeopathy in general practice: an uncontrolled prospective documentation approach.

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Department of Evaluation Research in Complementary Medicine, Institute of Environmental Medicine and Hospital Epidemiology, Freiburg University Hospital, Hugstetter Str, 55 D-79106 Freiburg, Germany.



Despite the increasing demand for acupuncture and homoeopathy in Germany, little is known about the effects of these treatments in routine care. We set up a pragmatic documentation study in general practice funded within the scope of project launched by a German health insurer. Patients were followed-up for up to four years.


The aim of the project was to study the effects and benefits of acupuncture and/or homoeopathy, and to assess patient satisfaction within a prospective documentation of over 5000 acupuncture and over 900 homoeopathy patients. As data sources, we used the documentation made available by therapists on every individual visit and a standardised quality-of-life questionnaire (MOS SF-36); these were complemented by questions concerning the patient's medical history and by questions on patient satisfaction. The health insurer provided us with data on work absenteeism.


Descriptive analyses of the main outcomes showed benefit of treatment with middle to large-sized effects for the quality of life questionnaire SF-36 and about 1 point improvement on a rating scale of effects, given by doctors. Data on the treatment and the patients' and physicians' background suggests chronically ill patients treated by fairly regular schemes.


Since the results showed evidence of a subjective benefit for patients from acupuncture and homoeopathy, this may account for the increase in demand for these treatments especially when patients are chronically ill and unsatisfied with the conventional treatment given previously.

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