Paediatric homoeopathy in Germany: results of the German health interview and examination survey for children and adolescents (KiGGS)

Authors

  • Yong Du PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Epidemiology and Health Reporting, Division of Non-Communicable Disease Epidemiology, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany
    • RKI 22, Robert Koch Institute, General-Pape-Str. 64-66, D-12101 Berlin, Germany.
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  • Hildtraud Knopf MD

    1. Department of Epidemiology and Health Reporting, Division of Non-Communicable Disease Epidemiology, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany
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Abstract

Purpose

Despite growing pressure against homoeopathy, an unexpected resurgence in the use of homoeopathy has been reported. It is of interest to examine the use of homoeopathy and user profiles among children in Germany.

Methods

Last-week homoeopathy use was recorded among 17 450 children aged 0–17 years who participated in the 2003–2006 German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS). The complex sample method was used to estimate the prevalence of, and factors associated with, homoeopathy use.

Results

Nine hundred and fifty-one homoeopathic preparations were used by 718 children (weighted prevalence 4.6%). Nearly half of the homoeopathic preparations were obtained by prescriptions from medical doctors or Heilpraktiker (non-medical practitioners) and used most often to treat certain self-limiting conditions. About 60% of homoeopathy users concomitantly received conventional medicines. Homoeopathy use was closely related to socioeconomic factors, with a significantly higher prevalence rate found in the 0–6 year age group [prevalence 6.2%, odds ratio 2.2, 95% confidence intervals (CIs) 1.7–2.9], among children residing in the former West Germany [5.1%, 2.2(1.5–3.2)] or the south of Germany [6.6%, 1.7(1.3–2.4)], among children with a poor health status [6.8%, 3.0(2.2–4.2)], with no immigration background [5.3%, 3.7(2.2–6.1)], who received breast-feeding >6 months [7.6%, 2.1(1.6–2.9)], were from upper social-class families [7.4%, 1.8(1.1–2.8)] and whose children's mothers were college educated [7.2%, 1.6(1.2–2.2)].

Conclusions

Paediatric homoeopathy is quite popular in Germany, particularly among children from families with a higher socioeconomic status. The high level of paediatric homoeopathy use in Germany warrants a critical review to determine whether it is evidence based and cost-effective. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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