The results of the most comprehensive review of the research literature in homeopathy ever carried out have been published in the peer-reviewed journal Homeopathy.1
The two-and-half year study was conducted by the British Homeopathic Association (BHA) and led by Dr Robert Mathie, an expert in the evaluation of the scientific evidence in homeopathy. This mammoth undertaking involved Dr Mathie and his co-authors evaluating 489 randomised controlled trials (RCTs), of which only 263 met the required scientific criteria for future systematic review.
Interestingly, the researchers identified 66 studies published since the last major systematic review into homeopathy in 2005,2 plus 30 studies that seemed eligible for inclusion in some of the earlier systematic reviews but were omitted. The findings of this study clarify the RCT literature in homeopathy and will be the basis for a forthcoming BHA programme of systematic reviews and meta-analysis.
The first phase of the review programme will examine 41 peer-reviewed, placebo-controlled, RCTs of individualised homeopathic treatment and will reflect on matters of study quality, including internal validity and model validity. Researchers will focus on two key issues:
- An overall meta-analysis, to ascertain if individualised therapy and homeopathic medicines can be distinguished from individualised therapy and placebo.
- In condition-specific meta-analyses, to quantify any effect of individualised homeopathic treatment for medical conditions that have more than one placebo-controlled RCT.
A study protocol for this first phase of the review programme has been published on the BHA’s website.3
1. Mathie RT, Hacke D, Clausen J, Nicolai T, Riley DS, Fisher P. Randomised controlled trials of homeopathy in humans: characterising the research journal literature for systematic review. Homeopathy 2013; 102: 3–24.
2. Shang A, Huwiler-Muntener K, Nartey L, et al. Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and allopathy. Lancet 2005; 366: 726–32.