A survey of the opinions and interventions of registered South African homoeopaths, regarding childhood vaccinations
Introduction This descriptive, quantitative perception survey aimed to determine the opinions and treatment regimes of registered South African homoeopaths, regarding childhood vaccinations. Purpose / Aim The purpose of this survey was to determine if there is a coherent treatment protocol amongst homoeopaths when dealing with childhood vaccinations. Methodology The researcher used a questionnaire (Appendix B), aimed at homoeopaths registered with the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa (AHPCSA), as primary health care practitioners, to view their patient management techniques regarding vaccinations. This study aimed to document the intervention protocols offered concurrently or as an alternative to orthodox vaccinations. A participant information letter (Appendix A) and a questionnaire (Appendix B) were faxed or e-mailed to all homoeopaths. After a two week time lapse, an independent third party contacted the participants who had not returned the questionnaires to ensure they had received the questionnaire. A further 2 weeks were allowed to lapse for the return of the outstanding questionnaires, after which time the non-complying candidates were excluded from the study. v Anonymity was maintained as the 93 completed questionnaires were returned to the third party. All personal details were removed before the researcher was allowed access to the questionnaires. The data accumulated was evaluated and statistically analyzed using Pearson’s chi-square tests, frequency tables, bar charts, analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Bonferroni post hoc multiple comparison tests. A p-value <0.05 was considered as statistically significant. Results Polio was the only disease that participants felt should be vaccinated against (40%) and only 10.1% of participants rated vaccinations as very important. Half (55.3%) of the participants thought there was not enough scientific proof that vaccinations prevent infectious disease. The participants rated improved sanitization (82.9%); nutrition (72%); access to healthcare (65%); healthcare (64.6%) and education (64.2%) as the most important interventions contributing to the decline of infectious diseases. Conclusions The assumption that most homoeopaths disagree with vaccinations held true as 72% of the participants were not in favor of vaccinations. However, 44.4% felt that the risks of vaccinations did not outweigh the benefits. Results indicate that the majority of participants did not support the use of vaccinations although their treatment protocols and general opinions regarding vaccinations varied tremendously. vi In conclusion, the homoeopathic profession can use this information to decide what steps should be taken to rectify any misconceptions, improve general knowledge and attitudes regarding homoeopaths’ opinions and intervention protocols with regards to childhood vaccinations.