Matched-pair study showed higher quality of placebo-controlled trials in Western phytotherapy than conventional medicine

Nartey, Linda; Huwiler-Müntener, Karin; Shang, Aijing; Liewald, Katharina; Jüni, Peter; Egger, Matthias (2007). Matched-pair study showed higher quality of placebo-controlled trials in Western phytotherapy than conventional medicine. Journal of clinical epidemiology, 60(8), pp. 787-94. New York, N.Y.: Elsevier 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2006.11.018

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OBJECTIVES: Herbal medicine (phytotherapy) is widely used, but the evidence for its effectiveness is a matter of ongoing debate. We compared the quality and results of trials of Western phytotherapy and conventional medicine. STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: A random sample of placebo-controlled trials of Western phytotherapy was identified in a comprehensive literature search (19 electronic databases). Conventional medicine trials matched for condition and type of outcome were selected from the Cochrane Central Controlled Trials Register (issue 1, 2003). Data were extracted in duplicate. Trials described as double-blind, with adequate generation of allocation sequence and adequate concealment of allocation were assumed to be of higher methodological quality. RESULTS: Eighty-nine herbal medicine and 89 matched conventional medicine trials were analyzed. Studies of Western herbalism were smaller, less likely to be published in English, and less likely to be indexed in MEDLINE than their counterparts from conventional medicine. Nineteen (21%) herbal and four (5%) conventional medicine trials were of higher quality. In both groups, smaller trials showed more beneficial treatment effects than larger trials. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings challenge the widely held belief that the quality of the evidence on the effectiveness of herbal medicine is generally inferior to the evidence available for conventional medicine.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Huwiler, Karin; Liewald, Katharina; Jüni, Peter and Egger, Matthias


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health










Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:52

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:16

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URI: (FactScience: 30416)

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