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How do homeopaths reason and make decisions? Integrating theory, practice, and education.

ABSTRACT

Homeopathy is a major modality in complementary and alternative medicine. Significant tensions exist between homeopathic practice and education, evident in the diversity of practice styles and pedagogic models. Utilizing clinical reasoning knowledge in conventional medicine and allied health sciences, this article seeks to identify and critique existing research in this important area.A literature search utilizing MEDLINE,(®) Allied and Complementary Medicine (AMED), and CINAHL(®) (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) was conducted. Key terms including clinical thinking, clinical reasoning, decision-making, homeopathy, and complementary medicine were utilized. A critical appraisal of the evidence was undertaken.Four (4) studies have examined homeopathic clinical reasoning. Two (2) studies sought to measure and quantify homeopathic reasoning. One (1) study proposed a reasoning model, based on pattern recognition, hypothetico-deductive reasoning, intuition, and remedy-matching (PHIR-M), resembling much that has been previously mapped in conventional medical reasoning research. The fourth closely investigated the meaning and use of intuition in homeopathic decision-making.Taken together, these four studies provide valuable insight into what is currently known about homeopathic clinical reasoning. However, despite the history and breadth of practice, little is known about homeopathic clinical reasoning and decision-making. Building on the research would require viewing clinical reasoning not only as a cognitive phenomenon but also as a situated and interactive one. Further research into homeopathic clinical reasoning is indicated.