The use of intuition in homeopathic clinical decision making: an interpretative phenomenological study

Brien, Sarah, Dibb, Bridget and Burch, Alex (2009) The use of intuition in homeopathic clinical decision making: an interpretative phenomenological study. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM), 1-8. (doi:10.1093/ecam/nep153).


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While intuition plays a role in clinical decision making within conventional medicine, little is understood about its use in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The aim of this qualitative study was to investigate intuition from the perspective of homeopathic practitioners; its’ manifestation, how it was recognized, its origins and when it was used within daily clinical practice. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with clinically experienced non-National Health Service (NHS) UK homeopathic practitioners. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to analyze the data. Homeopaths reported many similarities with conventional medical practitioner regarding the nature, perceived origin and manifestation of their intuitions in clinical practice. Intuition was used in two key aspects of the consultation: (i) to enhance the practitioner–patient relationship, these were generally trusted; and (ii) intuitions relating to the prescribing decision. Homeopaths were cautious about these latter intuitions, testing any intuitive thoughts through deductive reasoning before accepting them. Their reluctance is not surprising given the consequences for patient care, but we propose this also reflects homeopaths’ sensitivity to the academic and medical mistrust of both homeopathy and intuition. This study is the first to explore the use of intuition in decision making in any form of complementary medicine. The similarities with conventional practitioners may provide confidence in validating intuition as a legitimate part of the decision making process for these specific practitioners. Further work is needed to elucidate if these findings reflect intuitive use in clinical practice of other CAM practitioners in both private and NHS (i.e. time limited) settings

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1093/ecam/nep153
ISSNs: 1741-427X (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: complementary medicine, homeopathy, practitioner, qualitative
Subjects: R Medicine > RX Homeopathy
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Medicine > Community Clinical Sciences
ePrint ID: 72970
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2010
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:05

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