Indexed on: 04 Jul '07Published on: 04 Jul '07Published in: Pediatrics
This work sought to identify naturopathic physicians in Washington State who frequently provide pediatric care and to describe the conditions treated and therapies recommended for children.A mailed survey of licensed naturopathic physicians residing in Washington State collected demographic information and practice descriptions. For naturopathic physicians treating > or = 5 pediatric patients per week, data were collected on the conditions seen and treatments provided to children during a 2-week period.Of 499 surveys delivered to providers, 251 surveys were returned (response rate: 50.3%). Among the 204 naturopathic physicians currently practicing, only 31 (15%) saw > or = 5 children per week. For these pediatric naturopathic physicians, pediatric visits constituted 28% of their office practice. Pediatric naturopathic physicians were more likely to be licensed midwives (19.4% vs 0.6%) and treated significantly more patients per week (41.6 vs 20.2) than naturopathic physicians who provided less pediatric care. Eighteen of the 31 pediatric naturopathic physicians returned data on 354 pediatric visits; 30.5% of the visits were by children < 2 years old, and 58.5% were by those < 6 years old. The most common purpose for presentation included health supervision visits (27.4%), infectious disease (20.6%), and mental health conditions (12.7%). Pediatric naturopathic physicians provided immunizations during 18.6% of health supervision visits by children < 2 years old and 27.3% of visits by children between the ages of 2 and 5 years.Although most naturopathic physicians in Washington treat few children, a group of naturopathic physicians provide pediatric care as a substantial part of their practice. Based on the ages of children seen and the conditions treated, pediatric naturopathic physicians may provide the majority of care for some children. Efforts should be made to enhance collaboration between naturopathic physicians and conventional providers so that optimal care can be provided to children.