Background: Individualised homeopathy involves a large number of possible medicines. For clinical research purposes it is desirable to limit this number, create more consistency between prescribers and optimising the accuracy of prescription. Using a semi-standardised treatment protocol, we aimed to improve homeopathic management of targeted subgroups of women with premenstrual syndrome/symptoms (PMS/S).
Objectives: To design a semi-standardised protocol for individualised prescribing in PMS/S with a limited number of homeopathic medicines, and to explore the feasibility of working with it in daily homeopathic practice.
Methods: With help of an expert panel, homeopathic medicines were selected, as well as predictive symptoms and characteristics (keynotes) for each medicine. With those, we designed a patient questionnaire and a diagnostic algorithm. The patient questionnaire contained 123 questions, representing potential predictive symptoms for 11 homeopathic medicines for PMS/S. The medicines selected (in rank order) were Sep, Nat-m, Lach, Cimic, Lac-c, Puls, Calc, Lil-t, Mag-p, Mag-c, Phos. In a feasibility study 20 homeopathic doctors used the protocol in daily practice. The diagnosis was confirmed by daily rating of pre-defined symptoms during two consecutive menstrual cycles. The acceptability and feasibility of the protocol were evaluated after 3 months follow-up, at which time we also measured changes in premenstrual symptom scores and patient-reported changes in symptoms and general health.
Results: The doctors mostly complied with the protocol and valued the computerised diagnostic algorithm as a useful tool for homeopathic medicine selection. 33 patients completed 3 months follow-up. By then, 19 patients still taking the first medicine on the basis of the algorithm. We received valid symptom records of 30 patients. Premenstrual symptom scores dropped by 50% or more in 12 patients and by 30-50% in 6 patients; scores dropped by less than 30% or increased in 12 patients. Recruitment of patients (n=38 in 9 months) proved difficult. Adherence to the diaries and the questionnaire was satisfactory.
Conclusions: It is feasible to use a semi-standardised protocol for individualised homeopathic prescribing in PMS, in daily practice. Its predictive value and the percentage of women with PMS/S helped by the selected medicines remain to be evaluated in further research. In future research, active promotion will be needed to recruit patients.
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