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GPs trained in complementary medicine less likely to prescribe antibiotics

GPs who are trained in complementary medicine including homeopathy prescribe less antibiotics than GPs without integrative medicine (IM) training, according to new research.

UK, German and Dutch researchers, led by the University of Bristol, used prescribing data from 7,274 GP surgeries and compared the differences in the prescription of antibiotics between conventional GP surgeries and those with GPs who had undergone training in integrative medicine.

The research – Management of upper respiratory tract infections by different medical practices, including homeopathy, and consumption of antibiotics in primary care: the EP13 cohort study in France 2007-2008 – concludes, in part, as follows:

‘…Patients who chose to consult GPs certified in homeopathy used less antibiotics and antipyretic/anti-inflammatory drugs for upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) than those seen by GPs prescribing conventional medications…’

The analysis revealed that GP practices employing doctors with additional training in IM had significantly lower antibiotic prescribing rates than those with conventional GPs.

The reduction of antibiotic prescribing is an outcome which is in line with current national guidance aimed at reducing antibiotic usage and antimicrobial resistance.

The study confirms that accessibility to IM/Complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) within NHS England primary care is limited and that one reason for this is the lack of consultation data.

Further reading: BMJ Open research paperDo NHS GP surgeries employing GPs additionally trained in integrative or complementary medicine have lower antibiotic prescribing rates? Retrospective cross-sectional analysis of national primary care prescribing data in England in 2016 (Esther T van der Werf, Lorna J Duncan, Paschen von Flotow, Erik W Baars; BMJ Volume 8, Issue 3).


Richard Eaton

Richard Eaton LL.B (Hons) has a professional background as a barrister (now retired), as a lecturer in law and as a business mentor. He has, for many years, supported and campaigned for the freedom of practitioners to practise and for their patients to receive complementary and alternative medicine. He formerly owned and practice-managed, together with his wife Marion Eaton, a Reiki Master Teacher, The Professional Centre for Holistic Health in the Old Town of Hastings, East Sussex, which provided full practising facilities for 16 CAM Practitioners. Richard takes a keen interest in the development of Integrated Healthcare within both the public and the private health sectors.