Aim: There are a few examining changes in patient groups seeking homeopathic care. This study describes changes in complaints and characteristics of patients visiting a homeopathic clinic in Norway from 1994/1995 to 2003/2004.
Methods: Two surveys were conducted, each including data for 700 patients who had visited the same homeopathic clinic, with five (1995) and seven (2004) homeopaths, respectively. Data on patients' gender, age, occupation, reason for encounter and where they had heard about homeopathy and the homeopathic clinic were registered by the homeopaths. In 2004, the patients also answered questions on the previous use of conventional treatment and how long it took them to decide to consult a homeopath.
Results: There are no changes in the reason for encounter and gender proportions between 1995 and 2004. Over 36% of patients were under the age of 16 in 2004, compared to 26% in 1995. Most patients still consult homeopaths through a lay referral network. In 2004, more than 60% made an appointment with a homeopath within the first month of first considering it.
Conclusion: There are few changes in the characteristics of this homeopathic patient population. There is a need for studies that explore the 'why question'; Why an increasing percentage of patients are children? Why people with higher education and why certain age groups visit homeopaths more frequently than others?