Clare Relton, Katy Cooper, Petter Viksveen, Philippa Fibert, Kate Thomas

Prevalence of homeopathy use by the general population worldwide: a systematic review

Homeopathy, 2017, 106 (2), 69-78


Aim – To systematically review surveys of 12-month prevalence of homeopathy use by the general population worldwide. Methods – Studies were identified via database searches to October 2015. Study quality was assessed using a six-item tool. All estimates were in the context of a survey which also reported prevalence of any complementary and alternative medicine use.

Results – A total of 36 surveys were included. Of these, 67% met four of six quality criteria. Twelve-month prevalence of treatment by a homeopath was reported in 24 surveys of adults (median 1.5%, range 0.2–8.2%). Estimates for children were similar to those for adults. Rates in the USA, UK, Australia and Canada all ranged from 0.2% to 2.9% and remained stable over the years surveyed (1986–2012). Twelve-month prevalence of all use of homeopathy (purchase of over-the-counter homeopathic medicines and treatment by a homeopath) was reported in 10 surveys of adults (median 3.9%, range 0.7–9.8%) while a further 11 surveys which did not define the type of homeopathy use reported similar data. Rates in the USA and Australia ranged from 1.7% to 4.4% and remained stable over the years surveyed. The highest use was reported by a survey in Switzerland where homeopathy is covered by mandatory health insurance.

Conclusions – This review summarises 12-month prevalence of homeopathy use from surveys conducted in eleven countries (USA, UK, Australia, Israel, Canada, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, South Korea, Japan and Singapore). Each year a small but significant percentage of these general populations use homeopathy. This includes visits to homeopaths as well as purchase of over-the-counter homeopathic medicines.

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