The University of Southampton

Professor George Lewith MA DM FRCP MRCGP

Professor of Health Research

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Professor George Lewith is Professor of Health Research within Medicine at the University of Southampton.

My objective is to understand CAM and how it may be best integrated into conventional care. We wish to explore its clinical and contextual effects with rigour, using mixed methods, from a patient centered perspective.

Professor Lewith knew from the age of 7 that he wanted to become a doctor, a vocation about which he has never had any regrets. Later, when he considered to which medical school he should apply, he became fascinated by molecular biology so deliberately applied to Cambridge to allow him to complete a part II in Natural Sciences. His career has allowed him to combine his scientific interests, including over 150 primary research papers, with a busy clinical practice over the last 30 years.  He now works at the University of Southampton where he leads an internationally respected Integrated Medicine research group within the medical school's department of primary medical care. The department is part of the NIHR national school for primary care research.  His research is focused on differentiating the specific from the non specific effects of treatment and developing models that will help to explain the patient perceived benefits of a variety of complementary medical interventions. He is currently interested in Pain, Arthritis and Cancer as illness models investigating the effects of acupuncture, healing, homeopathy and herbal medicines.


MB BChir, Medicine, University of Cambridge, 1974
MRCP (UK), Medicine, RCP London, 1977
MRCGP (UK), Medicine, RCGP London, 1980
DM, Medicine, University of Southampton, 1994
FRCP (UK), Medicine, RCP London, 1999
FFHom, Homeopathy, Honorary, Faculty of Homeopathy, 2010
Joan Dawkins (BMA), 1996

Previous Key Appointments

1980-2010 Partner, The Centre for Complementary and Integrated Medicine

2005-2008 Reader, School of Medicine, University of Southampton

1998-2005 Senior Research Fellow, University of Southampton

1995-1998 Hon Visiting Clinical Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine, University of Southampton







Research interests

The Complementary and Integrated Medicine Research Unit was established by George Lewith in 1995 with his appointment as Honorary Visiting Senior Lecturer.  He now has a University contract as a Professor of Health Research within the Department of Primary Care where the unit is located.   The unit was initially provided with core funding by the Maurice Laing Foundation and has been able to generate substantial amounts of soft money funding for a number of minor and major projects from charitable (including Wellcome) sources as well as NHS R&D funding.  Laing funding continues to provide our unit with an administrative core.  Professor Lewith has also been a Visiting Professor to the School of Integrated Health at the University of Westminster.

Over the last 15 years the unit has created a unique multidisciplinary team (non-clinical post-docs, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists and health psychologists) in Southampton which has developed considerable skill in primary clinical research within CAM. These studies have been directed at asking not only where complementary therapies may be most applicable, but whether and how they work.   Furthermore, the research has led the unit to understand that the nature and content of the therapeutic relationship within complementary medicine is of paramount importance and therefore they are in the process of developing clinical trial methodology that will allow them to look at the consultation independently from a particular therapeutic intervention, focusing particularly on the non-specific effects of homeopathy and acupuncture in chronic disease.   The major studies in which the unit has been involved to date are well described in the granite and publication lists and on the complementary and integrated medicine research website.

Academic unit(s)

Primary Care & Population Sciences Academic Units

Affiliate academic unit(s)

Primary care Research group

Research project(s)

Acupuncture for Back Pain: Evaluating Patient Outcomes and Their Determinants

Creating a taxonomy to harness the placebo effect in UK primary care


Our aim is to provide mindfulness training to patents attending the ‘difficult asthma’ clinic in Southampton, who also have scores on a screening questionnaire indicating significant anxiety levels. We want to see if the course can be delivered (and is acceptable) to these people and to provide information to support a subsequent larger, randomised controlled study.

Placebo effects and informed consent

Treatment Beliefs in Back Pain

PROstate ACTIVE Surveillance support

Professor Lewith acts as a mentor for doctoral and post-doctoral staff and to conduct and develop his own research and that of his research group.


Book Section(s)




Post graduate and undergraduate research supervision.

Supervising 4th study in depth projects.

Delivering a lecture to 2nd year students.

Delivering lectures to the 3rd year select study unit.

May 2015
Researchers have received a grant of over £230,000 to explore a new way to reduce unnecessary treatment of non-aggressive prostate cancers. The grant is part of a £2m wave of Movember Foundation Project Grants and Pilot Awards made by Prostate Cancer UK. Professor George Lewith from Primary Care will be leading the 2.5 year project, known as PROACTIVE, alongside Professor Alison Richardson from Health Sciences. Continue reading here.

March 2014
Professor Lewith is mentioned in India Today, March 2014. Society & Trends, Wellness section. The printed article is available to view in our 'useful downloads'.

21 March 2013
97 per cent of UK doctors have given placebos to patients. Please click here for full news item.

12 December 2012
Manipulative therapies may be a beneficial treatement for infantile colic. Please click here for full news item.

30 November 2012
Why we need to research the use of complementary medicine - article in the Guardian. Please click here for full news item.

10 September 2012
Acupuncture is of benefit for some types of chronic pain. Please click here for full news item.




Useful Downloads

Professor George Lewith
Complementary and Integrated Medicine Research Unit Primary Medical Care Aldermoor Health Centre Aldermoor Close Southampton SO16 5ST Telephone: +44 (0)2380 241073 Fax: +44 (0)2380 701125 Email:

Room Number: 9590 AHC/141

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