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Homeopathic Treatment of Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain: A Prospective Observational Study With 2 Years' Follow-up

Witt, Claudia M. MD, MBA*; Lüdtke, Rainer MSc; Baur, Roland MD*; Willich, Stefan N. MD, MPH, MBA*

The Clinical Journal of Pain: May 2009 - Volume 25 - Issue 4 - p 334-339
doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31819050bb
Original Articles
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Objectives To evaluate the details and effects of an individualized homeopathic treatment in patients with chronic low back pain in usual care.

Methods Prospective multicenter observational study. Consecutive patients beginning homeopathic treatment in primary care practices were evaluated over 2 years by using standardized questionnaires. Diagnoses (ICD-9) and symptoms with severity, health-related quality of life (QoL), medical history, consultations, homeopathic and conventional treatments, and other health service use were recorded.

Results One hundred twenty-nine adults (64.3% women, mean age 43.6±12.7 y) were treated by 48 physicians. The patients mainly had chronic low back pain (average duration 9.6±9.0 y) and other chronic diseases. Nearly all the patients (91.3%) had been pretreated. The initial case-taking took 113±36, and the case analysis took 31±38 minutes. The 7.4±8.1 subsequent consultations (duration: 23.7±15.2 min) cumulated to 204.5±184.6 minutes. The patients received an average of 6.8±6.3 homeopathic prescriptions. The severity of the diagnoses and complaints showed marked and sustained improvements with large effect sizes (Cohen's d from 1.67 to 2.55) and QoL improved accordingly (SF-36 physical component scale d=0.33; mental component scale d=0.54). The use of conventional treatment and health services decreased markedly: the number of patients using low back pain-related drugs was half of the baseline.

Discussion Classic homeopathic treatment represents an effective treatment for low back pain and other diagnoses. It improves health-related QoL and reduces the use of other healthcare services.

*Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité University Medical Center, Berlin

Karl and Veronica Carstens-Foundation, Am Deimelsberg 36, Essen, Germany

Supported by a grant by the Karl und Veronica Carstens Foundation, D-Essen.

Reprints: Claudia M. Witt, MD, MBA, Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité University Medical Center, D-10098 Berlin, Germany (e-mail: claudia.witt@charite.de).

Received for publication July 7, 2008; revised September 23, 2008; accepted October 6, 2008

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.