To pilot a model for determining whether homoeopathic treatment of children suffering from glue ear is more effective than standard GP care at producing a return to normal hearing (a hearing loss of less than 20 dB) within 12 months.
Non-blind, randomized controlled trial.
General practice in two locations in southern England.
Thirty-three children aged 18 months to 8 years with otitis media with effusion, hearing loss > 20 dB and an abnormal tympanogram.
Hearing loss, tympanogram, referrals to specialists and number of courses of antibiotics at 12 month follow-up.
A higher proportion of children receiving homoeopathic care had a hearing loss less then 20 dB at follow-up (64 vs 56%), though this difference did not reach statistical significance (95% confidence interval for the difference between means of -25 and 42%). More homoeopathy patients than controls had a normal tympanogram (75 vs 31%, P = 0.015). Referrals to specialists and antibiotic consumption was lower in the homoeopathy group, though differences between groups did not reach statistical significance.
Further research comparing homoeopathy to standard care is warranted. Assuming recovery rates of 50 and 30% in homoeopathy and standard care groups respectively, 270 patients would be needed for a definitive trial.
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