Can homeopathy help children with ADHD?
What is this project about?
This clinical trial will evaluate the impact of giving children with ADHD homeopathic treatment alongside standard conventional care. The project is being carried out as part of a PhD programme at the University of Sheffield.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition affecting increasing numbers of children, for which existing treatments are far from ideal. Increasingly parents are choosing homeopathy alongside conventional therapy for their children’s care, yet there is very little high quality research in this area to determine whether homeopathy is effective for this condition.
The positive results seen in a case series involving 20 children suggest that homeopathic treatment is an effective treatment for this condition, and warrants further investigation. The next step is this project – a larger-scale pragmatic randomised controlled clinical trial.
ADHD can have a significant impact on the life of the child, the family as a whole and also places financial burdens on society.
The main recommended treatments – psychotropic stimulant drugs such as Ritalin – raise ethical concerns over prescribing such medications to children and the possibility of causing long term harm. Furthermore, between 25-35% of children diagnosed with ADHD do not respond to these treatments, especially those who also have Autism Spectrum Disorders.
A Pragmatic Randomised Controlled Clinical Trial is being designed to evaluate the comparative clinical and cost effectiveness of adjunctive treatment provided by homeopaths for children with a diagnosis of ADHD, in comparison to standard care alone. This trial design is the best way to assess homeopathic treatment as delivered in real life i.e. with children receiving a homeopathic consultation and individualised prescription, in addition to any recommended conventional treatment.
Key elements of the design include the retention of the totality of homeopathic treatment; a control group receiving standard care; equal sample sizes of adequate power; random distribution of groups; groups representative of the ADHD population; homeopathic treatment undertaken by several homeopaths in several locations; evaluation of clinical and cost effectiveness using appropriate outcome measurements reflecting the requirements of stakeholders; and allowance of sufficient trial time to detect results.
Funding from the HRI supports the PhD stipend and Clinical Trial. An academic scholarship from Sheffield University covers PhD fees. The trial protocol is being prepared for submission as a component of MPhil upgrade requirements.
Philippa Fibert – PhD student (University of Sheffield)
Dr Clare Relton – Research Fellow, School of Health and Related Research (University of Sheffield), and a Registered Homeopath
Dr Elizabeth Milne (Sheffield Autism Lab, Psychology dept)
Philippa Fibert, Bed (Hons Cantab) BSc MSc
Ms Fibert has a background working with children with special needs – first as a teacher (having studied English and Education at Cambridge University) then as a parent educator. During this time she studied homeopathy and found it to be a treatment method more effective than anything else she had encountered before. This led to Ms Fibert obtaining a BSc in Homeopathy at Thames Valley University and a research MSc at Goldsmiths, University of London (Research Methodology in Psychology). She is currently undertaking a PhD within the School of Health and Related research, Sheffield University. Ms Fibert is Research Consultant for the Society of Homeopaths and continues in private practice as a homeopath.
Why is this project important?
“A pragmatic randomised clinical trial is needed to provide more substantial information for public health decision makers about what homeopathy can achieve for these children, and how cost effective it is.” Philippa Fibert