A survey to determine the perceptions of parents in the central Durban area towards paediatric homeopathy
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Introduction The aim of this study was to determine the knowledge and perceptions of parents towards homeopathy. Parents with children below 5 years, who attended a registered Crèche or Educare within the central Durban area (Appendix H – ‘Register’ and Appendix I ‘Map’) were approached. Objective The objective of the study was to determine the knowledge, attitudes and parent’s experience with paediatric health care provision towards homeopathy. The awareness of parents with regard to the benefits of homeopathic treatment for children as a possible alternative was also determined. Methodology A survey method in the form of a questionnaire was employed to investigate the perceptions of parents towards homeopathy in the treatment of their children. The target population for this survey was parents, whose children were below 5 years of age and attended a registered Crèche or Educare in the central Durban, Berea, Musgrave and Morningside areas (Appendix I – ‘Map’). The data accumulated was evaluated and analyzed statistically using the SPSS version 17.1. Results A total of 300 questionnaires were distributed and a total of 140 (46.6%) questionnaires were returned. With regards to legitimacy of homeopathy most parents (72.1%) perceived homeopathy to be a legitimate form of medicine. 70.92% of all respondents were aware that homeopathy has a scientific basis. It was encouraging to note that 10.64% of the sample consults with a homeopath when their child is ill or indisposed. The majority of respondents (77.14%) indicated that homeopathic treatment should be available in hospitals and clinics. Only 3.57% felt that it should not be incorporated in hospitals and clinics. This indicates that most respondents perceive that integrated medicine is needed in a hospital setting. The majority of respondents (90.71%) felt that there should be more awareness of homeopathy. Despite the lack of knowledge, a large number of respondents indicated that homeopathy should be available for most medical conditions. Conclusion This study reveals that most respondents had a positive view of homeopathy in general and were enthusiastic to learn more about homeopathy. Although people are aware that homeopathy exists, a lack of knowledge and understanding of its methods and principles prevents them from seeking homeopathic treatment. A need to provide basic homeopathic education to the public exists. Education initiatives should aim to differentiate homeopathy from other alternative therapies, to dispel the confusion and to eliminate misconceptions about homeopathy. This study indicates that by educating the public on paediatric homeopathy, more individuals would be likely to seek homeopathic treatment for their children.