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Was a trial on complementary medicine in Northern Ireland "spectacularly successful"? Image

Was a trial on complementary medicine in Northern Ireland "spectacularly successful"?

Articles in the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian on 30th June 2014 reported former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain’s claim that he introduced a trial for complementary medicine on the NHS in Northern Ireland and that it "… had spectacularly good results, that people’s well-being and health was vastly improved".

In fact this was not a trial, but a pilot study which contained no control group. Edzard Ernst, Emeritus Professor of Complementary Medicine told us:

“There was no control group, therefore it is not possible to attribute any of the outcomes to the alternative therapies offered because they could have been due to: placebo-effects, the natural history of the disease, regression towards the mean, social desirability or many other factors which are unrelated to the alternative treatments provided.

Most outcome measures were not objectively verified and the patients were self-selected and would all have had conventional treatments in parallel. This ‘trial’ was of such poor quality that its findings were never published in a peer-reviewed journal”

This comment was originally published here.

Document type: For The Record

Published: 1 July 2014

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