[Clinical research on anthroposophic medicine:update of a health technology assessment report and status quo]

Forsch Komplementmed. 2011;18(5):269-82. doi: 10.1159/000331812. Epub 2011 Oct 4.
[Article in German]


Background and objective: In 2005 a Health Technology Assessment (HTA) report analyzed efficacy, effectiveness, safety, utilization and costs of Anthroposophic Medicine (AM). After a recent referendum of the ‘Swiss Population pro Complementary Medicine’ (May 2009) this HTA report was updated.

Design: Update of the HTA report by a systematic review.

Methods: Methods corresponded to the existing HTA report and the guidelines of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. For clinical studies four databases and a specialized journal were searched, and extensive expert consultations were used. Studies were selected according to predefined inclusion criteria, data were extracted, and methodological quality was assessed individually.

Results: 70 new clinical studies were found. Altogether, 265 clinical studies investigated efficacy and effectiveness of AM: 38 randomized controlled trials, 36 prospective and 49 retrospective non-randomized controlled trials as well as 90 prospective and 52 retrospective trials without control groups. They investigated a wide spectrum of AM treatments in a multitude of diseases; the whole AM system in 38 trials, non-pharmacological therapies in 10 trials, AM mistletoe products in cancer therapy in 133 trials, and other AM medication treatments in 84 trials. Most studies showed a positive result for AM. Methodological quality differed substantially; some studies showed major limitations, others were reasonably well conducted. Trials with better quality still showed a positive result. External validity was usually high. Side effects or other risks were rare and usually described to be mild or moderate. Studies regarding safety showed a good tolerability altogether.

Conclusion: Trials of varying design and quality in a variety of diseases predominantly describe good clinical outcomes for AM, only marginal side effects, high satisfaction of patients with regard to results and safety and presumably slightly less costs. Further high-quality evaluations are desirable.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthroposophy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic* / statistics & numerical data
  • Complementary Therapies / standards*
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data
  • Complementary Therapies / trends*
  • Humans