Swiss pediatricians want complementary medicine

A Swiss study shows that paediatricians want to offer their patients holistic therapies. Often they still lack the necessary knowledge.

Dr. Benedikt Huber sees great opportunities for the future of integrative medicine in paediatrics.It came as no surprise to Dr. Benedikt Huber that almost all paediatricians in Switzerland were asked by their patients or their parents about complementary medicine. The paediatrician is the author of a recently published study on complementary medicine in paediatrics in Switzerland.

97% of the paediatricians surveyed stated that they had already been asked about complementary treatment options

“The high demand reflects the findings of other European studies,” adds Huber. And they are also confirmed in Huber’s everyday life. Trained in both conventional and anthroposophic medicine, he is able to treat his young patients holistically at the hospital in Freiburg. But what about his colleagues? Can they also satisfy the high demand?

Survey of almost two thousand paediatricians

The question prompted Huber and his team to conduct the study. They distributed an online questionnaire via the Swiss Society of Paediatrics, which has a large number of Swiss paediatricians as members. Of the almost two thousand paediatricians contacted, one third responded. The study is representative.

The Swiss want to be treated holistically in the event of illness

Although only just under 25% of the physicians surveyed have attended advanced training courses in complementary medicine methods such as phytotherapy, homeopathy, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine or anthroposophical medicine, two thirds (65%) of them expressed interest in courses and training in these methods. A high figure, which should not come as a surprise, since complementary medicine has been enshrined in the Swiss constitution since 2009. In the event of illness, the Swiss would like to be treated holistically.

Limits of conventional medicine

However, scientific medicine, as paediatrician Huber calls conventional medicine, can only cover part of the spectrum of medicine as a whole. In order to be able to do justice to a person’s disease situation integrally, different disciplines and methods have to be combined. For Huber it is also clear: “The boundaries between scientifically oriented orthodox medicine and complementary medicine are artificial”. In his everyday life, they hardly play a role, the children and adolescents to be treated are at the centre. However, awareness of the limitations of conventional medicine in everyday practice may have encouraged the high level of interest in complementary methods among the paediatricians surveyed.

The boundaries between scientifically oriented conventional medicine and complementary medicine are artificial

The annual congress of the Swiss Society for Pediatrics 2020 in Freiburg will satisfy part of the thirst for knowledge. It will be devoted to the topic of “Integrative Pediatrics: Conventional and Complementary Medicine”. The focus is on the mutual exchange and transfer of practical knowledge and is intended to stimulate research in the field of complementary and integrative medicine. As Huber points out: “There is still extremely little solid data”.

Safe, holistic therapies lead to the goal

Whether conventional or complementary medicine, the safety of the patient must be guaranteed with every therapy. It is the task of science to confirm this. Huber can count on the support of numerous paediatricians. In the survey, 42% said they wanted to participate in complementary medical research. It is to be hoped that funds will soon flow into this. Benedikt Huber, who heads the Centre for Integrative Pediatrics at the Cantonal Hospital in Freiburg, has a vision: in ten, maybe twenty years’ time, integrative institutions such as the one in Freiburg will be common practice at Swiss pediatric clinics.

The study:

Huber, Benedikt Maria, Tido von Schoen-Angerer, Oswald Hasselmann, Johannes Wildhaber, und Ursula Wolf. „Swiss Paediatrician Survey on Complementary Medicine“. Swiss Medical Weekly 149 (3. Juni 2019): w20091.


This article can be found in the  Millefolia

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