The European Journal of Health Economics

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 157–174

Economic evaluations of homeopathy: a review

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10198-013-0462-7

Cite this article as:
Viksveen, P., Dymitr, Z. & Simoens, S. Eur J Health Econ (2014) 15: 157. doi:10.1007/s10198-013-0462-7

Abstract

Context

Economic evaluations of commonly used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies such as homeopathy are needed to contribute to the evidence base on which policy makers, clinicians, health-care payers, as well as patients base their health-care decisions in an era of constrained resources.

Objectives

To review and assess existing economic evaluations of homeopathy.

Methods

Literature search was made to retrieve relevant publications using AMED, the Cochrane Library, CRD (DARE, NHS EED, HTA), EMBASE, MEDLINE, and the journal Homeopathy (former British Homoeopathic Journal). A hand search of relevant publications was carried out. Homeopathy researchers were contacted. Identified publications were independently assessed by two authors.

Results

Fifteen relevant articles reported on 14 economic evaluations of homeopathy. Thirteen studies reported numbers of patients: a total of 3,500 patients received homeopathic treatment (median 97, interquartile range 48–268), and 10 studies reported on control group participants (median 57, IQR 40–362). Eight out of 14 studies found improvements in patients’ health together with cost savings. Four studies found that improvements in homeopathy patients were at least as good as in control group patients, at comparable costs. Two studies found improvements similar to conventional treatment, but at higher costs. Studies were highly heterogeneous and had several methodological weaknesses.

Conclusions

Although the identified evidence of the costs and potential benefits of homeopathy seemed promising, studies were highly heterogeneous and had several methodological weaknesses. It is therefore not possible to draw firm conclusions based on existing economic evaluations of homeopathy. Recommendations for future research are presented.

Keywords

Complementary and alternative medicine Economic evaluations Homeopathy Cost-effectiveness 

JEL Classification

C18 – Methodological Issues: General I10 – General I11 – Analysis of Health Care Markets I12 – Health Production I13 – Health Insurance, Public and Private I15 – Health and Economic Development 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petter Viksveen
    • 1
    • 4
  • Zofia Dymitr
    • 2
  • Steven Simoens
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Health and Related ResearchUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  2. 2.DorchesterUK
  3. 3.Research Centre for Pharmaceutical Care and Pharmaco-economicsKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  4. 4.SandnesNorway

Personalised recommendations