Impact of physician preferences for homeopathic or conventional medicines on patients with musculoskeletal disorders: results from the EPI3-MSD cohort

Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2012 Oct;21(10):1093-101. doi: 10.1002/pds.3316. Epub 2012 Jul 11.


Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the effect of physician practicing preferences (PPP) in primary care for homeopathy (Ho), CAM (Complementary and alternative medicines) with conventional medicine (Mx) or exclusively conventional medicine (CM) on patients with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), with reference to clinical progression, drug consumption, side effects and loss of therapeutic opportunity.

Methods: The EPI3-MSD study was a nationwide observational cohort of a representative sample of general practitioners (GP) and their patients in France. Recruitment of GP was stratified by PPP, which was self-declared. Diagnoses and comorbidities were recorded by GP at inclusion. Patients completed a standardized telephone interview at inclusion, one, three and twelve months, including MSD-functional scales and medication consumption.

Results: 1153 MSD patients were included in the three PPP groups. Patients did not differ between groups except for chronicity of MSDs (>12 weeks), which was higher in the Ho group (62.1%) than in the CM (48.6%) and Mx groups (50.3%). The twelve-month development of specific functional scores was identical across the three groups after controlling for baseline score (p > 0.05). After adjusting for propensity scores, NSAID use over 12 months was almost half in the Ho group (OR, 0.54; 95%CI, 0.38-0.78) as compared to the CM group; no difference was found in the Mx group (OR, 0.81; 95% CI: 0.59-1.15).

Conclusion: MSD patients seen by homeopathic physicians showed a similar clinical progression when less exposed to NSAID in comparison to patients seen in CM practice, with fewer NSAID-related adverse events and no loss of therapeutic opportunity.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Cohort Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Family Practice / trends*
  • Female
  • France
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Materia Medica / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / drug therapy
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / therapy*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Materia Medica