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.