The characteristics, experiences and perceptions of homeopaths in New Zealand: results from a national survey of practitioners.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Homeopathy, 2017, 106 (1), pp. 11 - 17
Issue Date:
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BACKGROUND: The popularity of homeopathy is seemingly at odds with the scientific controversy over its effectiveness. Several studies have reported on effectiveness of clinical homeopathy, but few studies have been conducted on practices and perceptions of homeopaths, and none in New Zealand (NZ). To address this gap, this paper reports findings from the first national survey examining the characteristics, perceptions and experiences of NZ-based homeopaths regarding a wide range of issues relating to their role and practice. There were 176 homeopaths in NZ at the time of this survey, who were members of a voluntary register (The New Zealand Council of Homeopaths), homeopaths are not statutorily registered in NZ. METHODS: A 65 question, online survey was sent to homeopathic practitioners via their professional associations. A total of 176 homeopaths were invited to participate. Of these 176, 57 (32%) responded. RESULTS: The majority of homeopaths were female (93%). Twelve percent were under 45 years and 20% over 55 years. Most (85%) had qualification in homeopathy of diploma or certificate level and most (66%) were engaged in part-time practice. Mean year of experience was 12.6 and mean caseload per month was 25. 90% considered research useful to validate practice, while 88% considered that it impacted on practice, although only 48% had skills to interpret research papers. There was an association between skills to interpret research and its impact on practice (p = 0.038). The majority (87%) were in favour of registration, with a statistically significant association between attitudes to registration and age (p = 0.027), the older homeopaths being more in favour. Most (68%) were in favour of integration with conventional practitioners and many referred to conventional practitioners (mean referrals per annum to GPs = 57 and midwives = 30). Homeopaths assessed their contribution to New Zealand Ministry of Health objectives as significant, with 77% perceiving that they improved nutrition, 75% increasing physical activity and 63% reducing smoking. CONCLUSION: These findings enable greater understanding of the way in which homeopaths practice in New Zealand and how they perceive their role in health care. The findings potentially assist communication between homeopaths and other health professionals. There is a need to further investigate homeopaths' practices and perceptions in NZ.
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