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Prince of Wales and his Foundation for Integrated Health

According to a piece in today’s The Independent, Quackwatch has attacked the Foundation’s new booklet for patients, Complementary Health Care: A Guide for Patients
(available here).. This doesn’t come as any great surprise, of course — Quackwatch would hardly be expected to say anything else. I haven’t managed to find their comments online but according to the report their main objection is that the booklet doesn’t indicate which of the treatments it describes are useless. I think they may have a point.

Actually, the first part of the booklet seems to me to be quite good. For example, it advises patients to seek advice from their doctor before embarking on complementary treatment. And it gives sensible advice about how to go about selecting a therapist. There is also a lot about how to complain, which I suppose is a sign of the times.

When we come to the sections dealing with individual treatments, I do have some reservations. My main complaint is that all the therapies listed receive the same amount of respect, the implication being that they are all equally plausible (or implausible, if you prefer). I think it is misleading to include craniosacral therapy and reiki, for example, for which there is little or no valid research evidence, on all fours with osteopathy and acupuncture, which have at least some support from research and for which it is possible to suggest reasonably plausible explanations for how they might work.

In summary, I’d say the booklet gives quite sound advice in general terms but makes no attempt to evaluate any of the treatments it describes. It therefore manages to avoid offence but at the cost of providing little guidance about possible effectiveness.


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