Author: Manon Knapen – University of Otago, New Zealand
Co-author: Fabien Medvecky – University of Otago
Homeopathy is an alternative medicine whose efficacy is subject to controversies due to the lack of peer-reviewed studies. Indeed, a 2015 systematic review by the Australian NHMRC (among others) concluded that there is no evidence that homeopathic treatments are more effective than the placebo effect.
Despite the absence of evidence behind the efficacy of homeopathic remedies, there is an increasing number of users worldwide. The central concern with the increasing use of homeopathic remedies is the risk that individuals with serious or life-threatening illnesses will forego effective treatment from conventional medicine.
Drawing on interviews and a national survey, this paper provides an insight into homeopathy users’ perception of the scientific basis of homeopathy. This provides a deeper understating of what homeopathy users take homeopathy to be and what the term ‘scientific’ means to them, how they access and assess information about homeopathy, and how trust is formed around the efficacy of this form of treatment.
Understanding why homeopathy users choose to use homeopathic remedies despite the lack of scientific evidence will help develop better strategies for communicating the implications of using homeopathy. This work could potentially be extended to other alternative medicines where similar risks to public health are present.
The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.
Presentation type: Individual paper
Area of interest: Influencing policies through science communication