Objectives: In France, homeopathy is the most frequently used complementary therapy in supportive care in oncology (SCO); its use is steadily increasing. However, data is limited about the perception and relevance of homeopathy by oncologists and general practitioners (GPs) both with and without homeopathic training (HGPs and NHGPs, respectively). Our aim was to evaluate French physicians’ perceptions of homeopathy to clarify its place in SCO through two original observation survey-based studies.
Materials and methods: Two cross-sectional surveys of French physicians were conducted involving (1) 150 specialist oncologists; (2) 97 HGPs and 100 NHGPs. Questions evaluated physician attitudes to homeopathy and patterns of use of homeopathic therapies in patients requiring SCO. Survey responses were described and analyzed on the basis of physician status.
Results: Ten percent of oncologists stated they prescribe homeopathy; 36% recommend it; 54% think that homeopathy is potentially helpful in SCO. Two-thirds of the NHGPs sometimes prescribe homeopathy in the context of SCO and 58% regularly refer their patients to homeopathic doctors. HGPs have a positive perception of homeopathy in SCO.
Conclusions: Homeopathy is viewed favorably as an integrated SCO therapy by the majority of French physicians involved with cancer patients-oncologists and GPs. Symptoms of particular relevance include fatigue, anxiety, peripheral neuropathy, sleep disturbance, and hot flashes. In such clinical situations, response to conventional therapies may be suboptimal and homeopathy is considered a reliable therapeutic option. These two studies highlight the fact that homeopathy has gained legitimacy as the first complementary therapy in SCO in France.
Keywords: Cancer patient; General practitioner; Homeopathy; Integrative oncology; Oncologist; Supportive care in oncology.