Research: HUNT and ERNST,

Listed in Issue 176


HUNT and ERNST, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter & Plymouth, Exeter, UK. investigated whether evidence-based practice (EBP) is incorporated in the codes of ethics of British complementary and alternative medicine organizations.


The principles of evidence-based practice (EBP) are fundamental to medical ethics and seem essential for any form of health care. In 2000, a House of Lords Select Committee recommended that the ethos of EBP should extend to complementary and alternative medicine. The aim of this investigation was to determine whether EBP is incorporated in the codes of ethics of British complementary and alternative medicine organizations.


We obtained the codes of the following bodies: Association of Naturopathic Practitioners, Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (UK), Ayurvedic Practitioners Association, British Acupuncture Council, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council, European Herbal Practitioners Association, General Chiropractic Council, General Osteopathic Council, General Regulatory Council for Complementary Therapies, National Institute of Medical Herbalists, Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine, Society of Homeopaths, UK Healers, Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners. We then extracted the statements referring to EBP and compared this with what the respective codes of British doctors and nurses proscribed.


Only the General Chiropractic Council, the General Osteopathic Council and the General Regulatory Council for Complementary Therapies oblige their members to adopt EBP.


This discloses double standards in UK health care which may compromise patient safety.


Hunt K and Ernst E. Evidence-based practice in British complementary and alternative medicine: double standards?   Journal of Health Services & Research Policy. 14(4):219-23. Oct 2009. Comment in: J Health Serv Res Policy. 14(4):224-5; PMID: 19770120. Oct 2009.

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