July 12, 2020

Homeopathy users in Spain: few, sporadic and little satisfied | Science

In recent years, the focus of research on the phenomenon of pseudoscience in Spain has finally come to the fore. Thanks to this, social agents and health authorities can know more in detail the dimensions of the problem, the characteristics that define it and the aspects that can help address it. The CIS, recently, decided to ask about pseudotherapies and now we have a more approximate portrait of the users of false remedies and the confusion in which society lives with respect to its intended utility.

Even practitioners of homeopathy give a better note to real medicine than to this pseudoscientific practice

A study by the University of Valencia has just put the magnifying glass on the results of that CIS to identify the patterns that define consumers of homeopathy in Spain, just when Health asks Brussels to review its consideration. Broadly speaking, the typical user agrees with what has been described in other studies: it highlights the use by women (two thirds of the total), of an average age of 46 years, with higher education (63% of Spanish consumers of homeopathy has higher education or vocational training, compared to 39% of the general population), upper middle class and some left (but not too much: it stands at 4.3 on the spectrum, compared to 4.7 of the national average ). "The standard user who could consume it did not surprise us, it is similar to other international studies", summarizes the professor Carolina Moreno, co-author of the study with Lorena Cano and Isabel Mendoza.

But there are more interesting details in the study: beyond the who, highlight nuances very revealing in how, why and how much. Starting at the end: only 5% of respondents say they have consumed homeopathy in the last year. But they could be less, if we have the existing confusion about what homeopathy really is, that many people confuse with naturopathy, herbs or infusions. "We can not know if when they cite homeopathy respondents know what they are talking about," explains Moreno. The director of the ScienceFlows project develops her doubts from the following answers: "When they ask what they use it for, most say that in order to have a healthy and balanced life and prevent illnesses, it does not fit well with the healing discourse and does not preventive of homeopathy, which arouses many issues. "

Asked how they react to a "mild pain or cold", 40% say they take analgesics or anti-flu

In the same vein, the recent National Health Survey showed that only 1% of Spaniards had visited a specialist in homeopathy the previous year. What is also a significant decline from 1.5% in 2012. In addition, only 0.7% of the health budget of the Spanish is dedicated to homeopathic preparations, according to a recent report by Unespa based on the Survey of Family Budgets (PDF) A fact that is complemented with the income of Boiron, the main laboratory for sales in Spain, which adds two years falling.

They are very low figures and, above all, very far from those that have been handled for years without rigor the organizations promoting homeopathy, which dared to indicate that up to 45% use it regularly or sporadically or that a third of The Spaniards had used these preparations, according to the White Book of Homeopathy. The associations that represent the users of homeopathy went as a protest to this newspaper assuring that patients constitute 10-12% of the population. They also assure that they have "a wide acceptance by Spanish society, according to the Fecyt 2017 survey", a reference that Boiron has also recently used. In this case they use confusion as acceptance: in that survey, 53% of Spaniards identified a lot, a lot or something with the claim that homeopathic products work. But only 7% was very convinced that it works.

What the CIS tells us, analyzed by these researchers, is that homeopathy is used very punctually and that it they put the horns with conventional medications. Asked how they react to a "mild pain or cold", 40% say they take analgesics or anti-flu (compared to 50% of the rest of Spaniards). The biggest difference in this issue between homeopathy users and the general population is that only 8% of the former go to the medical consultation compared to 18% of the others.

The standard user who could consume it is not surprising: middle-aged woman and good education

Especially striking is the very low satisfaction that users of homeopathy show with this pseudotherapy: 6.9 out of 10, a point lower than the degree of satisfaction that those same users have of the general practitioner (7,9) or of the specialist doctor (7, 8). That is to say, even the practitioners of homeopathy prefer to the doctors of truth that this pseudo-scientific practice. It can be assumed that it is normal, since homeopathy has not shown that it can be used against any disease or disease. But, surprisingly, homeopathy is also the worst valued of all the pseudotherapies for which the CIS asked. The note of homeopathy, the lowest, is also far from the 7.6 of reiki, the 8.6 of music therapy and the 8.9 of ayurveda. Only acupuncture, with a 7, approaches your note.

However, Professor Moreno believes that users of homeopathy "should not be treated as ignorant" and that, although "many people can not conceive that they are people with academic training", for them it is something "almost ideological". And it highlights a fact of great importance to know the phenomenon: its users reach homeopathy through acquaintances and to a lesser extent searching the internet: "Word of mouth is important because it has a lot to do with trusting what the close people".


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