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Use of Complementary Therapies and Placebos by German Physicians Working in Private Practice

DOI: 10.3238/zfa.2015.0254-0259

german translation / full article

Keywords: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Placebo Cross-Sectional Survey

Background: This study aimed to investigate whether family practitioners (FPs), internists and orthopedists working in private practice in Germany believe in the specific effects of complementary therapies, to what extent they use complementary therapies, placebos and non-specific therapies, and how basic professional attitudes are associated with specific patterns of use.

Methods: A four-page questionnaire was sent to random samples of 700 physicians per specialist group.

Results: Of 2018 questionnaires delivered correctly 935 (46 %) were sent back and analyzed. Belief in specific effects varied greatly within and between specialties. 23 % of FPs, 6 % of internists and 31 % of orthopedists use four or more complementary therapies more often than weekly, further 45 %, 15 % and 54 %, respectively, use two or three therapies. 76 % of FPs, 56 % of internists and 43 % of orthopedists reported the use of placebos and/or non-specific therapies in the last year. However, the frequency of such use was low. In addition to specialisation lower agreement to a scientific professional orientation was associated with a higher use of complementary therapies, placebo and non-specific therapies.

Conclusions: German orthopedists and FPs use complementary therapies frequently, internists less often. While many FPs report some use of placebos and non-specific therapies orthopedists claim to almost never use such interventions.


(State: 16.06.2015)

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