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Vol. 15, No. 4, 2008
Issue release date: September 2008
Forsch Komplementmed 2008;15:218–225
Original Article · Originalarbeit

Understanding Homeopathic Decision-Making: A Qualitative Study

Burch A.L.a · Dibb B.b · Brien S.B.a
aPrimary Medical Care, University of Southampton, UK bSchool of Health Professions, University of Southampton, UK


Background: Understanding how homeopaths make clinical decisions is important in terms of optimising patient care, yet currently little is understood about this process. Most current literature investigating decision-making has focussed on conventional medicine; to date only two studies, both quantitative, have explored this area, with both studies investigating this in homeopathy. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore how homeopaths make prescribing decisions primarily during their first consultation with a patient. Method: In-depth, semistructured, face to face interviews were carried out with 14 private homeopaths working in private practice. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was carried out on the data by 3 researchers. Findings: Cognitive processes that homeopaths used in decision-making emerged from the analysis included the use of pattern recognition (P), hypothetico-deductive reasoning (H) and intuition (I), which led to a precise remedy match (R-M). Four themes emerged from the data: three related to the process of making a decision; one theme to those factors that influence this process. These themes fitted into a decision-making model, which we describe: the P.H.I.RM decision-making model. Two further themes emerged, which contributed to the model: the practitioners’ awareness of avoiding major bias and the role of the patient practitioner relationship in influencing decision-making. Conclusion: The P.H.I.R-M decision-making model describes how homeopathic practitioners’ used an evidence-based process to make decisions. This study also contributes more weight to the accumulating evidence that intuition is a valuable component of decisionmaking for homeopathic practitioners.

 goto top of outline Author Contacts

Dr. Sarah Brien, Dept. of Primary Medical Care, University of Southampton Aldermoor Health Centre, Aldermoor Close Southampton, Hampshire, SO16 5ST, Great Britain, Tel. +44 2380 241069, Mobile 07870642667, Fax +44 2380 701125, E-mail

 goto top of outline Article Information

Published online: July 29, 2008
Number of Print Pages : 8
Number of Figures : 0, Number of Tables : 0, Number of References : 0

 goto top of outline Publication Details

Forschende Komplementärmedizin / Research in Complementary Medicine (Research Practice Perspectives - Wissenschaft Praxis Perspektiven)

Vol. 15, No. 4, Year 2008 (Cover Date: September 2008)

Journal Editor: Walach H. (Northampton)
ISSN: 1661–4119 (Print), eISSN: 1661–4127 (Online)

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