Study on the scientific status of anthroposophic medicine

Applying criteria from the philosophy of science

by Erik W. Baars a,b,c,⁎, Helmut Kiene d, Gunver S. Kienle a,d,e, Peter Heusser a,f, Harald J. Hamre a,d

a - ESCAMP, Zechenweg 6, D-79111 Freiburg, Germany
b - Louis Bolk Institute, Kosterijland 3-5, 3981 AJ Bunnik, The Netherlands
c - University of Applied Sciences Leiden, Zernikedreef 11, 2333 CK Leiden, The Netherlands
d - Institute for Applied Epistemology and Medical Methodology at the Witten/Herdecke University, Zechenweg 6, D-79111 Freiburg, Germany
e - Center for Complementary Medicine, Institute for Infection Prevention and Hospital Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
f - Witten/Herdecke University, Gerhard-Kienle-Weg 4, D-58313 Herdecke, Germany

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Qigong versus exercise therapy for chronic low back pain in adults – a randomized controlled non-inferiority trial

Author: Blödt S1, Pach D, Kaster T, Lüdke R, Reishauer A, Witt CM.
Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany

The value of qigong in the treatment of chronic low back pain is unclear. In a randomized controlled trial, we evaluated whether qigong is non-inferior to exercise therapy in patients with chronic low back pain.

Patients (aged 20–60 years) with chronic neck pain (visual analog scale, VAS ≥40 mm) were randomized to 1) qigong or 2) exercise therapy (18 sessions over 6 months) or 3) waiting list (no treatment). At baseline and after 3 and 6 months, patients completed standardized questionnaires assessing neck pain (VAS), neck pain and disability, and quality of life (Short Form SF-36 questionnaire, SF-36). The primary endpoint was average pain in the last 7 days on VAS at 6-month follow-up. Statistical analysis included generalized estimation equation models adjusted for baseline values and patient expectation.

A total of 123 patients (aged 46 ± 11 years, 88% women) suffering from chronic neck pain for 3.2 (SD ± 1.6) years were included. After 6 months, a significant difference was seen between the qigong and waiting list control groups (VAS mean difference: −14 mm [95% CI = −23.1 to −5.4], P = 0.002). Mean improvements in the exercise group were comparable to those in the qigong group (difference between groups −0.7 mm [CI = −9.1 to 7.7]) but failed to show statistical significance (P = 0.092). Neck pain and disability, and SF-36 results also yielded superiority of qigong over no treatment and similar results in the qigong and exercise therapy groups.

Qigong was not proven to be non-inferior to exercise therapy in the treatment of chronic low back pain. Its role in the prevention of chronic low back pain might be addressed in further studies.

Source: Qigong Institute



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Complementary and alternative medicine whole systems research:
Beyond identification of inadequacies of the RCT

Marja J. Verhoef a, George Lewithb, Cheryl Ritenbaughc, Heather Boond, Susan Fleishmane, Anne Leis f
a Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine, Canada
b Complementary Medicine Research Unit, Primary Medical Care, Aldermoor Health Centre,Southampton, UK
c Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Arizona, AZ, USA
d Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, Ont., Canada
e Integrative Medicine Resource Group, Tucson, AZ, USA
f Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan, Sask., Canada


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) often consists of whole systems of care (such as naturopathic medicine or traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)) that combine a wide range of modalities to provide individualised treatment. The complexity of these interventions and their potential synergistic effect requires innovative evaluative approaches.
Model validity, which encompasses the need for research to adequately address the unique healing theory and therapeutic context of the intervention, is central to whole systems research (WSR). Classical randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are limited in their ability to address this need.
Therefore, we propose a mixed methods approach that includes a range of relevant and holistic outcome measures. As the individual components of most whole systems are inseparable, complementary and synergistic, WSR must not focus only on the ‘‘active’’ ingredients of a system. An emerging WSR framework must be non-hierarchical, cyclical, flexible and adaptive, as knowledge creation is continuous, evolutionary and necessitates a continuous interplay between research methods and ‘‘phases’’ of knowledge.
Finally, WSR must hold qualitative and quantitative research methods in equal esteem to realize their unique research contribution. Whole systems are complex and therefore no one method can adequately capture the meaning, process and outcomes of these interventions.
© 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.