Homeopathy Papers

Who Is The Physician Who Studies Homeopathy?

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Dr. Gualberto Diaz discusses a study from 2017 which analyzed personality traits of medical students who chose to participate in homeopathy or acupuncture courses versus those who did not.

My immediate response would be: someone whose family has professionals trained in it, or who has had favorable personal or family experiences with homeopathic treatment. It is difficult to deny that option to your patients after having seen patients being cured with homeopathy or having been cured oneself.

A study conducted in Germany and published a few months ago (Jocham A, BMC CAM 2017) has tried to give a more scientific answer by analyzing attitudes and personality traits of medical students from 37 faculties who chose to participate in homeopathy courses (220) or acupuncture courses (113), compared to those who did not chose to attend them (315).

The orientation towards science, care and status, and 5 personality traits (extraversion, neuroticism, openness, conscientiousness and agreeableness) were analyzed.

The students of homeopathy and acupuncture courses had, of course, a more positive attitude towards complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). The interesting thing is, that they valued less than others the orientation towards science and status, in favor of an orientation towards care (especially those of the homeopathy group).

They also had a higher score on the agreeableness feature. These are traits that are part of what we commonly call humanistic physicians, who are preoccupied with people and not just about diseases.

More frequently, this group had previously completed other studies and were clear about the specialty they wanted to choose. And this specialty was, in greater number, family medicine and, less so, surgery. Again data that tell us about the humanistic profile of those who are interested in homeopathy.

I do not understand how an article published in Medical Writing (Redacción Médica) begins by saying with respect to these results that “Alternative medicine and science do not go hand in hand”, taking into account that all students had a scientific orientation, just, that it was less accentuated in the groups of complementary medicine.

It would be like saying that “students who are not interested in complementary medicine, are not interested in taking care of others.” They do care, but that interest in caring for others is more pronounced in those who study homeopathy.

After all, the career of being a physician is a vocation. That’s probably the reason why status is the aspect with the smallest ratings in all students, although it matters a little more to those who did not choose CAM courses.

Data tell us about the humanistic profile of those who are interested in homeopathy. In reality, it is also not right to divide between “CAM” and “non-CAM”; the study shows six groups of students according to the attitude towards CAM, science, care and status.

The first group is “anti” CAM and at the same time highly “scientific”, but is it scientific to be against a therapy before having studied it? They are those with the worst score for care and the highest one for status, and that already seems to paint a profile.

The second group is more logical: they are neutral towards CAM and we find  those who study CAM (in order to get an opinion!) and those who do not (have no interest), with a high scientific orientation and moderate orientation towards care and status.

I don‘t describe the details of the other groups, in which, as they mentioned, the high interest in CAM coincides with a greater interest in care than in science or status, with the difference being more marked in students attending homeopathy courses.

Another difference of homeopathy students is that they are more open to other disciplines than acupuncture students. It probably reflects a more open attitude towards integration, which coincides with what I also observe in my professional environment.

With all that, it seems that I have to explain my original response thanks to this study: Homeopathic physicians are like those students who prioritize taking care of others, no matter whether scientific criteria support it completely or not. For them, it is difficult to deny that option to their patients after having seen patients or relatives being cured with homeopathy.

I‘ll add something for those who wonder if that is correct: It is not about rejecting one thing or the other, because they don‘t exclude each other. But when the time comes to prioritize, some of us take into account that the scientific criterion changes over time and even over cultures, and that uncertainty in medicine is much greater than we would like it to be. However, the vocational interest of caring for others is a resource that accompanies you permanently.

And you: What kind of physician do you want to be for yourself and yours? To what kind of physician do you want to convert?

References

Jocham A, Kriston L, Berberat PO, Schneider A, Linde K. How do medical students engaging in elective courses on acupuncture and homeopathy differ from unselected students? A survey. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2017;17:148. doi:10.1186/s12906-017-1653-z.

Gualberto Díaz

 Como es el medico que estudia homeopatia?

Mi respuesta inmediata sería: alguien cuya familia tiene profesionales formados en ella, o que ha tenido experiencias personales o familiares favorables al tratarse con homeopatía. Es difícil, tras ver pacientes curados con homeopatía o haberse curado uno mismo, negar esa opción a tus pacientes.
Un estudio realizado en Alemania y publicado hace unos meses (Jocham A, BMC CAM 2017) ha tratado de dar una respuesta más científica analizando actitudes y rasgos de personalidad de los alumnos de medicina de 37 facultades, que eligieron participar en cursos de homeopatía (220) o acupuntura (113) en comparación con los que no lo hicieron (315). Se analizaron la orientación hacia la ciencia, el cuidado y el estatus, y 5 rasgos de personalidad (extroversión, neuroticismo, apertura, responsabilidad y amabilidad).

Los estudiantes de los cursos de homeopatía y acupuntura tenían, como es lógico, actitudes más positivas hacia las medicinas complementarias y alternativas (CAM). Lo interesante es que valoraban menos que los demás la orientación científica y hacia el estatus, en favor de una orientación hacia el cuidado (sobre todo los del grupo de homeopatía). También tenían mayor puntuación en el rasgo de amabilidad. Son rasgos que forman parte de eso que comúnmente llamamos médicos humanistas, preocupados por las personas y no sólo por las enfermedades.

Con mayor frecuencia, este grupo había completado otros estudios previamente, tenían claro la especialidad que querían elegir. Y esta especialidad era en mayor número la medicina de familia y menos la cirugía. Otra vez datos que nos hablan de ese perfil humanista entre los que se interesan por la homeopatía.

No entiendo cómo un artículo publicado en Redacción Médica comienza diciendo respecto a estos resultados que “La medicina alternativa y la ciencia no van de la mano”, teniendo en cuenta que todos los estudiantes tenían una orientación científica, sólo que menos acentuada en los grupos de medicina complementaria. Sería como decir que “a los estudiantes que no les interesa la medicina complementaria, no les importa nada cuidar de los demás”. Sí que les importa, pero ese interés por cuidar de los demás está más acentuado en los que estudian homeopatía. Al fin y al cabo, la medicina es una carrera vocacional; probablemente por eso el estatus es el aspecto con valoraciones más pequeñas en todos los alumnos, aunque dentro de ello les importa un poco más a los que no eligieron cursos de CAM.
Datos que nos hablan de ese perfil humanista entre los que se interesan por la homeopatía
En realidad, tampoco es justo dividir entre “CAM” y “no-CAM”. El estudio muestra seis grupos de estudiantes según la actitud hacia CAM, ciencia, cuidado y estatus.

El primer grupo es “anti” CAM y al mismo tiempo altamente “científico”, pero… ¿es científico estar contra una terapia antes de haberla estudiado? Son los que peor puntúan en cuidado y mayor en estatus, y eso ya parece dibujar un perfil.
El segundo grupo es más lógico: neutrales hacia CAM entre los que estudian CAM (¡para poder hacerse una opinión!) y los que no (no tienen interés), con orientación científica alta y orientación hacia el cuidado y estatus moderadas.
No describo el detalle de los demás grupos, en los que como se ha comentado coincide el interés alto por las CAM con un interés mayor en el cuidado que en la ciencia o el estatus, siendo más marcada la diferencia entre los estudiantes con cursos de homeopatía.

Otra diferencia de los alumnos de homeopatía es que son más abiertos a otras disciplinas que los de acupuntura; probablemente refleja una actitud más abierta a la integración, lo que coincidiría con que observo también en mi entorno profesional.

Después de todo, parece que gracias a este estudio deberé matizar mi respuesta original: los médicos homeópatas se forjan con aquellos estudiantes que priorizan cuidar de los demás, por encima de que el criterio científico lo apoye completamente o no. Es a esos a los que les resulta difícil, tras ver pacientes o allegados curados con homeopatía, negar esa opción a sus pacientes.

Añadiré algo para quien se pregunta si eso es lo correcto: no se trata de rechazar una cosa o la otra porque no son criterios excluyentes. Pero cuando llega la hora de priorizar, algunos tenemos en cuenta que el criterio científico cambia con el tiempo e incluso entre culturas, y que la incertidumbre en Medicina es mucho mayor de lo que nos gustaría; sin embargo el interés vocacional por cuidar de los demás es un recurso que te acompaña permanentemente.

Y tú, ¿qué clase de médico deseas para ti y para los tuyos? ¿En qué clase de médico deseas convertirte?

Referencia:
Jocham A, Kriston L, Berberat PO, Schneider A, Linde K. How do medical students engaging in elective courses on acupuncture and homeopathy differ from unselected students? A survey. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2017;17:148. doi:10.1186/s12906-017-1653-z.

About the author

Gualberto Diaz

Gualberto Diaz

Dr. Gualberto Diaz is a Spanish physician and homeopathic doctor who practices Family and Community Medicine. He is also an integrative oncologist at Conde Orgaz and Pinar Medical Centers, in Madrid. He holds holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from the University of the Basque Country, with a Specialist in Family and Community Medicine. He is a University Specialist in Clinical Homeopathy. He is a professor of homeopathy at the CEDH international school, and occasionally collaborates in other institutions such as the Master of the Homeopathic Medical Academy of Barcelona and the ONMINTS platform. Additionally, he works as editorial advisor and technical advisor at the scientific publisher Amazing Books. His professional career includes the Servier Laboratories Research Division and the Boiron Laboratories Medical Department. Dr. Díaz is a member of the Board of Directors and the Scientific Committee of the Spanish Society of Homeopathic Doctors (SEMH), scientific adviser to the National Assembly of Homeopathy, member of the Spanish Society of Health and Integrative Medicine (SESMI) and a member of the international homeopathic society of cancer support care (IHSSCO). He is co-author of the blog www.HablandodeHomeopatia.com

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