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Research project: Homeopathy has clinical benefits in rheumatoid arthritis patients  that are attributable to the consultation process but not the homeopathic remedy:  a randomised controlled clinical trial - Dormant - Dormant

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a condition leading to joint damage and disability. Patients commonly seek complementary and alternative medicine, including homeopathy, to deal with their symptoms.

Previous studies show that RA patients receiving homeopathy are twice as likely to improve compared to those receiving placebo but it unclear if the effects are due to the consultation, the remedy or both.  This exploratory study was designed to identify how much benefits comes from the consultation and the remedy.

Objectives

To assess whether any benefits from adjunctive homeopathic intervention in patients with rheumatoid arthritis are due to the homeopathic consultation, homeopathic remedies or both. 

Methods

Exploratory double-blind, randomized placebo controlled trial conducted January 2008 to July 2008, in patients with active stable rheumatoid arthritis receiving conventional therapy.83 participants from three secondary care UK outpatient clinics, were randomized to 24 weeks of treatment with either homeopathic consultation (further randomised to: individualised homeopathy, complex homeopathy or placebo) or no homeopathic consultation (further randomised to complex homeopathy or placebo). Co-primary outcomes: American College of Rheumatology (ARC20) criteria and patient monthly global assessment (GA). Secondary outcomes; disease activity score 28 (DAS28), tender and swollen joint count, disease severity, pain, weekly patient and physician GA and pain, and inflammatory markers.

Results

56 completed treatment phase. No significant differences were observed for either primary outcome. There was no clear effect due to remedy type. Receiving a homeopathic consultation significantly improved DAS28 [mean difference = 0.623, 95%CI 0.1860 to1.060, p=0.005, effect size (ES) = 0.70], swollen joint count [mean difference = 3.04,95%CI 1.055 to 5.030, p=0.003, ES = 0.83], current pain [mean difference=9.12, 95%CI 0.521 to 17.718, p=0.038, ES = 0.48], weekly pain [mean difference =6.017, 95%CI 0.140 to 11.894, p=0.045, ES = 0.30], weekly patient GA [mean difference= 6.260, 95%CI 0.411 to12.169, p=0.036, ES = 0.31] and negative mood [mean difference=-4.497, 95%CI ‑8.071 to -0.923, p=0.015, ES = 0.90].

Conclusion

Homeopathic consultations but not homeopathic remedies are associated with clinically relevant benefits for patients with active but relatively stable RA.

Project team

Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine

Dr Sarah Brien (PI), Prof George Lewith - Medicine, Prof Phil Prescott, (Mathematics – but now retired), Clare McDermott- Medicine

Associated research themes

Chronic health management
Medical Consultations

Related research groups

Complex Healthcare Processes

Conferences and events associated with this project:

Orally presented at the International Congress on Complementary Medicine Research Norway 2010

Orally presented at the South West Society for Academic Primary Care Annual conference, Oxford 2010

Orally presented at Second European Congress for Integrative Medicine, Berlin, 2009.

Protocol orally presented at 10th Annual Symposium on Complementary Health Care, London, November 2003.

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