Our systematic review programme

Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in homeopathy

Authors: Robert T Mathie,1 Lynn A Legg,Jürgen Clausen,3 Jonathan R T Davidson,4
Suzanne M Lloyd,5 Ian Ford5

1 British Homeopathic Association, Luton, UK
2 Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
3 Karl und Veronica Carstens-Stiftung, Essen, Germany
4 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Duke University Medical Center,
Durham, North Carolina, USA
5 Robertson Centre for Biostatistics, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

Following the publication of its comprehensive overview of the research literature (Mathie et al 2013), the BHA continues its systematic review programme with the publication of the study protocol for the second phase of the detailed review work.

The complete project will ultimately examine all the relevant papers that were identified in the literature review, reflecting the key differences between the following: peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed articles; placebo-controlled and other-than-placebo controlled trials; individualised and non-individualised homeopathy; treatment and prevention.

The first phase of the review programme, whose methods are outlined in the study protocol, examined 41 peer-reviewed, placebo-controlled trials of individualised homeopathic treatment. The second phase of the review programme, whose methods are outlined in a separate study protocol, will examine 96 peer-reviewed, placebo-controlled trials of non-individualised homeopathic treatment.

As stated in the study protocols, the aims of this systematic review programme reflect matters of study quality (including internal validity and model validity), and focusing on two key issues: (1) in a global meta-analysis, to ascertain if treatment using homeopathic medicines can be distinguished from the same form of treatment but using placebo medicines; (2) in condition-specific meta-analyses, to quantify any effect of homeopathic treatment for medical conditions in which there is greater than one placebo-controlled RCT.

Mathie RT, Hacke D, Clausen J, Nicolai T, Riley DS, Fisher P (2013). Randomised controlled trials of homeopathy in humans: characterising the research journal literature for systematic review. Homeopathy; 102: 3–24.