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Research project: The use of intuition in homeopathic clinical decision making: an interpretative phenomenological study - Dormant - Dormant

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The aim of this qualitative study was to investigate intuition from the perspective of homeopathic practitioners; its’ manifestation, how it was recognised, its origins and when it was used within daily clinical practice.

While intuition plays a role in clinical decision making within conventional medicine, little is understood about its use in complementary medicine (CAM).  Semi structured interviews were carried out with clinically experienced non-NHS UK homeopathic practitioners.  Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to analyse the data.

Homeopaths reported many similarities with conventional medical practitioner regarding the nature, perceived origin and manifestation of their intuitions in clinical practice. Intuition was used in two key aspects of the consultation: (a) to enhance the practitioner patient relationship, these were generally trusted; and (b) intuitions relating to the prescribing decision. Homeopaths were cautious about these latter intuitions, testing any intuitive thoughts through deductive reasoning before accepting them. Their reluctance is not surprising given the consequences for patient care, but we propose this also reflects homeopaths’ sensitivity to the academic and medical mistrust of both homeopathy and intuition.

This study is the first to explore the use of intuition in decision making in any form of complementary medicine.  The similarities with conventional practitioners may provide confidence in validating intuition as a legitimate part of the decision-making process for these specific practitioners. Further work is needed to elucidate if these findings reflect intuitive use in clinical practice of other CAM practitioners in both private and NHS (i.e. time limited) settings.


Project team

Dr Sarah Brien, Primary care, Medicine, No staff currently associated with this project

Related research groups

Complex Healthcare Processes

Conferences and events associated with this project:

Oral presentation for Society for Academic Primary Care Annual conference, Galway, Ireland 2008.

Oral presentation at South West Society for Academic Primary Care South West Annual conference, Winchester 2007

Key Publication

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