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Table of Contents
Vol. 15, No. 4, 2008
Issue release date: September 2008
Forsch Komplementmed 2008;15:218–225
(DOI:10.1159/000138511)

Understanding Homeopathic Decision-Making: A Qualitative Study

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

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Abstract

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.



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