A silly study of anthroposophic medical therapy in chronic disease

The premise of this study is that longer consultation times — as is typical of anthroposophic care — will improve the health of patients with chronic diseases.

Why is it a silly study?

First the details.

  • 72 anthroposophic physicians treated 233 patients aged 1?74 years after a consultation of at least 30 minutes.
  • Additional consultations were scheduled during the study.
  • Diseases included primarily depression and fatigue, respiratory diseases, and musculoskeletal diseases.
  • Changes in disease severity were assessed using several measures, physicians’ and patients’ assessment used numerical rating scales (0?10), and quality of life was also used to assess outcomes over 2 years.

And the results.

  • Compared to the findings at the start of the study, almost all measures of disease severity improved and maintained their improvement over the study duration.

The bottom line?
The authors admit, “The pre-post design of the present study does not allow for conclusions about comparative effectiveness.” But they can’t resist concluding that the “study findings suggest that physician-provided anthroposophic therapy may play a beneficial role in the long-term care of patients with chronic diseases.”

If anyone in allopathic medicine had submitted a study of this type using no comparative group the journal reviewers would have rejected it in a New York minute. In fact, it would not have gotten past the investigational review committee.

Until CAM research journals (in this case BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine) get serious about making good study design an essential component of the review and publication process, nobody will take CAM seriously.

This is an embarrassment to everyone who supports the value of CAM in healthcare today.

A better study is here, and more information on anthroposophic medicine from the Physicians? Association for Anthroposophic Medicine can be found here.

5/23/07 16:04 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.