Research: LINDE and co-workers,

Listed in Issue 94

Abstract

LINDE and co-workers, Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, Department of Internal Medicine II, Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Munich, Germany, Klaus.Linde@lrz.tu-muenchen.de, describe the quality of systematic reviews of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and homeopathy.

Background

The aim of this work was to describe the approaches and characteristics of systematic reviews in three complementary therapies, and to assess their methodological quality.

Methodology

Systematic reviews of clinical trials of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and homeopathy were identified using the Cochrane database. Information on conditions, interventions, methods, results, and conclusions was extracted. Methodological quality was assessed using the Oxman scale.

Results

A total of 115 reviews were included in the study: 39 on acupuncture, 58 on herbal medicine, and 18 on homeopathy. Research questions were most specific in herbal medicine and tended to be very general in homeopathy. The main control used was placebo. The methodological quality of reviews was highly variable; deficiencies were most frequent for description of selection process and the summary of results of primary studies.

Conclusion

Systematic reviews tend to approach different complementary therapies differently. Compared to a set of reviews on analgesic interventions, methodological quality was slightly better on average, but there is plenty of room for improvement.

References

Linde K, ter-Riet G, Hondras M, Melchart D, Willich SN. Characteristics and quality of systematic reviews of acupuncture, herbal medicines, and homeopathy. Forschende Komplementaermedizin und Klassische Naturheilkunde 10 (2): 88-94, Apr 2003.

Comment

Prof Klaus Linde's group is one of the foremost homeopathic groups internationally at the forefront to improve the quality of homeopathic and other research into complementary medicine. I think it is almost a truism of research that one never achieves perfection. It is almost the definition of research that answering one question poses others, which need further research. Such is life!

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