Anthroposophic medicine in pediatric primary care: a prospective, multicenter observational study on prescribing patterns

Altern Ther Health Med. Mar-Apr 2011;17(2):18-28.


Background: Although the treatment of children has been a core domain ofanthroposophic medicine since its inception, a systematic analysis of anthroposophic therapies in pediatric primary care is still lacking. This study describes the spectrum of diagnoses and therapies observed in children treated in everyday anthroposophic practice.

Methods: Thirty-eight primary care physicians in Germany participated in this prospective, multicenter observational study on prescribing patterns. Prescriptions and diagnoses were reported for each consecutive patient. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to determine factors associated with anthroposophic prescriptions.

Results: In 2005, a total of 57 893 prescriptions for 18 440 children under 12 years of age (48.1% female) were issued. In total, 50.3% of the prescriptions were classified as CAM remedies alone, 22.6% as conventional pharmaceuticals alone, and 27.1% as a combination of both. Anthroposophic remedies accounted for 41.8% of all medications prescribed. The odds ratio (OR) for receiving an anthroposophic remedy was significantly higher for the first consultation (OR= 1.19; confidence interval [CI]: 1.16-1.23). Anthroposophic remedies were prescribed most frequently for disorders of the conjunctiva (OR = 2.47; CI: 2.27-2.70), otitis media (OR = 1.50; CI: 1.43-1.59), acute upper respiratory tract infections (OR= 1.28; CI: 1.23-1.33), other respiratory diseases (OR= 1.15; CI: 1.07-1.24), digestive system and abdominal symptoms (OR= 1.39; CI: 1.28-1.51), general symptoms and signs (OR= 1.25; CI: 1.16-1.36), .and pneumonia (OR= 1.36; CI: 1.25-1.49). The likelihood of being prescribed an anthroposophic remedy decreased with patient age (OR= 0.96; CI: 0.95-0.96) and was lower in patients treated by a pediatrician (OR= 0.43; CI: 0.42-0.44). Of the 2475 therapeutic procedures prescribed (29% anthroposophic), the most frequent were physiotherapy, speech therapy, ergotherapy, and logopedics.

Conclusion: The present study is the first to provide a systematic overview of everyday anthroposophic medical practice in primary care for children. The findings show that practitioners of anthroposophic medicine take an integrative approach by combining conventional and anthroposophic treatments.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease / therapy*
  • Anthroposophy*
  • Child
  • Child Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Naturopathy / methods
  • Naturopathy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome