Randomised controlled trials of homeopathy in hyperactive children: treatment procedure leads to an unconventional study design. Experience with open-label homeopathic treatment preceding the Swiss ADHD placebo controlled, randomised, double-blind, cross-over trial

Frei, H; Everts, R; von Ammon, K; Kaufmann, F; Walther, D; Schmitz, S-F Hsu; Collenberg, M; Steinlin, M; Lim, C; Thurneysen, A (2007). Randomised controlled trials of homeopathy in hyperactive children: treatment procedure leads to an unconventional study design. Experience with open-label homeopathic treatment preceding the Swiss ADHD placebo controlled, randomised, double-blind, cross-over trial. Homeopathy, 96(1), pp. 35-41. Oxford: Elsevier 10.1016/j.homp.2006.11.004

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BACKGROUND: Treatment of patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with homeopathy is difficult. The Swiss randomised, placebo controlled, cross-over trial in ADHD patients (Swiss ADHD trial) was designed with an open-label screening phase prior to the randomised controlled phase. During the screening phase, the response of each child to successive homeopathic medications was observed until the optimal medication was identified. Only children who reached a predefined level of improvement participated in the randomised, cross-over phase. Although the randomised phase revealed a significant beneficial effect of homeopathy, the cross-over caused a strong carryover effect diminishing the apparent difference between placebo and verum treatment. METHODS: This retrospective analysis explores the screening phase data with respect to the risk of failure to demonstrate a specific effect of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) with randomisation at the start of the treatment. RESULTS: During the screening phase, 84% (70/83) of the children responded to treatment and reached eligibility for the randomised trial after a median time of 5 months (range 1-18), with a median of 3 different medications (range 1-9). Thirteen children (16%) did not reach eligibility. Five months after treatment start, the difference in Conners Global Index (CGI) rating between responders and non-responders became highly significant (p = 0.0006). Improvement in CGI was much greater following the identification of the optimal medication than in the preceding suboptimal treatment period (p < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Because of the necessity of identifying an optimal medication before response to treatment can be expected, randomisation at the start of treatment in an RCT of homeopathy in ADHD children has a high risk of failure to demonstrate a specific treatment effect, if the observation time is shorter than 12 months.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Medical Education > Institute of Complementary Medicine (ICOM)
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Endocrinology (DFKE) > Clinic of Paediatric Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

von Ammon, Klaus; Steinlin, Maja and Thurneysen, André

ISSN:

1475-4916

ISBN:

17227746

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:55

Last Modified:

06 Dec 2013 13:47

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.homp.2006.11.004

PubMed ID:

17227746

Web of Science ID:

000243601200007

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/23449 (FactScience: 41863)

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