Context: The safety of patients consulting with practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) partially depends on practitioners' competence, and thus the standard of undergraduate education.
Objectives: Describe undergraduate homeopathy courses in Europe, student/graduate numbers and whether there were differences between recognised/accredited and non-recognised/non-accredited courses.
Methods: Cross sectional survey of current homeopathy undergraduate education in Europe in 2008. Data from 145 (94.8%) out of 153 identified courses were collected. Eighty-five (55.6%) responded to a questionnaire survey. For others some data was extracted from their websites. Only data from the questionnaire survey is used for the main analysis.
Findings: The average course in the questionnaire survey had 47 enrolled students and 142 graduates, and lasted 3.6 years part-time. An estimated 6500 students were enrolled and 21,000 had graduated from 153 identified European undergraduate homeopathy courses. Out of 85 courses most had entry requirements and provided medical education (N = 48) or required students to obtain this competence elsewhere (N = 33). The average number of teaching hours were 992 (95% confidence interval (CI) 814, 1170) overall, with 555 h (95%CI 496, 615) for homeopathy. Four out of five courses were recognised/accredited. Recognised/accredited part-time courses lasted significantly longer than non-recognised/non-accredited courses (difference 0.6 years, 95%CI 0.0-1.2, P = 0.040), and offered significantly larger numbers of teaching hours in homeopathy (difference 167 h, 95%CI 7-327, P = 0.041).
Conclusions: About 6500 currently enrolled students are doing undergraduate homeopathy education in Europe and 21,000 have graduated from such courses over a period of about 30 years. Undergraduate homeopathy education in Europe is heterogeneous. Recognised/accredited courses are more extensive with more teaching hours.
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