Objective: To our knowledge, prescription of homeopathic medicines by homeopathic undergraduate students has not been studied before though it may possess serious implications. We aimed to determine the practice and attitudes of prescription by homeopathic undergraduate students.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out involving all the students from four government homeopathic schools of West Bengal, India. Ethical requirements were ensured and data were collected using self-administered questionnaires. Chi-square tests and logistic univariate regression analyses were performed to identify associations and differences.
Results: A total of 328 forms were completed. Of these, 264 (80.5%) homeopathic undergraduate students admitted of prescribing medicines independently and most (40.5%) said that they did this 2-3 times a year. The most common reasons for this were 'urgency of the problem' (35.2%), 'previous experience with same kind of illness' (31.8%), and 'the problem too trivial to go to a doctor' (25.8%). About 63.4% of the students thought that it was alright to independently diagnose an illness while 51.2% thought that it was alright for them to prescribe medicines to others. Common conditions encountered were fever, indigestion, and injury. Students who prescribed medicines were more likely to belong to Calcutta Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital (odds ratio = 5.8; 95% confidence interval 2.247-14.972). Prescription by students gradually increased with academic years of homeopathic schools. Many students thought it was alright for students to diagnose and treat illnesses.
Conclusion: Prescription of medicines by homeopathic undergraduate students is quite rampant and corrective measures are warranted.