More and more people are becoming concerned about the effects of drugs,
particularly in relation to children. There is an alternative in homoeopathy
Families need more options. Homoeopathy is a wonderful option because
homoeopathic remedies are safe, cause no side effects or allergic reactions, and
are inexpensive. They are easy to use because they taste good and above all,
they are curative, not suppressive (Ullman, 1992).
It was therefore necessary to determine the perception or perceptions towards
homoeopathy as a treatment method and in terms of a primary health care
option. The study population selected for this research is required to attend pre
primary school in the Pinetown district. This district was chosen for the diversity
in race, religion, and socio-economic factors, as well as the mixture of both rural
and urban areas in this district.
The purpose of this survey was to assess the perception, extent of knowledge
and general understanding of as well as misconceptions about homoeopathy,
including attitudes towards homoeopathy as a primary health care option in order
to determine possible needs for homoeopathic services.
The aim of this study is to develop and improve the knowledge and general
understanding of homoeopathy and the perception towards the profession of homoeopathy amongst the general public by means of an information pamphlet
The research instrument used was a quantitative questionnaire (Appendix A),
aimed at parents of children aged 3 to 7 years old in pre primary schools in the
Pinetown district , as laid out by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education –
map version 2 October 2007 (Appendix H and I) EduAction (2007). It was
introduced to the principals of randomly selected (stratified random sampling
method was used) pre primary schools (Appendix J) of the Pinetown district, and
arrangements were made with those principals for distribution and collection of
the completed questionnaires. The questionnaire was adapted from Moys, (1998)
Small, (2005) Paruk, (2006) and Khoosal, (2007). Anonymity was maintained as
no names, addresses or other information was required, thereby preventing
identification of the respondents.
The data accumulated was evaluated and analyzed statistically using the SPSS®
version 15.0 for Windows™ and Excel® XP™. According to statistician Tonya
Esterhuizen, a p-value <0.05 was considered as statistically significant.
Comparisons between demographics and areas were achieved using Pearson‟s
chi-square tests. Descriptive analysis involved frequency tables showing counts
and percentages of categorical variables. Bar or pie charts were used to show
responses graphically. The profession can then use this information to decide what steps can be taken
to rectify the misconceptions, improve general knowledge and attitudes towards
homoeopathy; through education, media, community talks and the like. This
information can also be used to plan for the necessary services required for the
children (Khoosal, 2007).
Of the 1400 questionnaires distributed, 508 questionnaires 36.3% from 13
different schools (Appendix J) were completed and considered evaluative. Not
every question was answered on every questionnaire giving rise to some results
that do not tally.
Respondents answered questions on the extent of knowledge and general
understanding (as well as misconceptions) regarding homoeopathy and it was
found that more than half 56.1% had heard of homoeopathy.
Of the sample, 22.7% had previously taken their child to a homoeopath for
treatment, and the level of satisfaction with homeopathic treatment was 48.6%.
According to the respondents 40.9% of children were in good health, while 33.9%
was in excellent health and 24% in reasonable health.
As anticipated a number of the respondents were unsure of the various roles of a
homoeopath or did not know enough to comment. While 46% thought
homoeopaths emphasize a healthy lifestyle, 45% thought that homoeopaths
boost the immune system and 39% thought they prescribe plant extracts. Over half (51.2%) thought that homoeopathy had a valid scientific basis. And
32.4% agreed that homoeopathy takes longer to work than orthodox medicine
although most (42.4%) were unsure about this question. On analyzing the
attitudes towards homoeopathy as a primary health care option only 12.8% of
respondents would contact a homoeopath if their child were ill. Most would
contact a General Practitioner (GP) (61.3%). The majority (65.6%) thought
homoeopathic treatment should be available in hospitals and clinics. While 40%
saw homoeopathy as preventative medicine, 37.6% saw it as supportive and
35.7% as first choice treatment.
On analyzing the conditions for which respondents would seek homoeopathic
treatment, allergies ranked highest (43.5%) for which they would seek treatment,
while hay fever was second (38.1%), followed by eczema (37.6%). The condition
that was least agreed on was toothache (11.3%).
A small percentage (3%), of respondents had a religious objection to seeking
treatment from a homoeopath.
It can be concluded from the study that more than half of the public surveyed
(56.1%) were aware of homoeopathy but levels of understanding and knowledge
were lower than expected even where there had been partial experience with a
practitioner. More detailed education on this modality of medicine is required in
order to improve exposure to homoeopathy and to allow more informed
decisions. It can also be concluded that a majority of respondents (65.6%) are in favour of homoeopathy having a place in primary health care. This study actually
found that 65.6% of respondents felt that homoeopathy should be available in
hospitals and clinic – this may not mean as a primary health service, but perhaps
as an available alternative.||en_US