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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 12-21

A survey regarding awareness and beliefs about Homoeopathy among general population during Magh Mela at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India


1 Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, New Delhi, India
2 Clinical Trial Unit (Extn. Unit), Gorakhpur, Haryana, India
3 Dr. D. P. Rastogi Central Research Institute (H), Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
4 Homoeopathic Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Submission18-Sep-2018
Date of Acceptance04-Mar-2019
Date of Web Publication29-Mar-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Manas Ranjan Sarangi
Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, New Delhi
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijrh.ijrh_56_18

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  Abstract 


Background and Objective: Homoeopathy is one of the various alternative systems of medicine prevalent in India. A survey was conducted during the month of January–February 2017 in a congregation at Sangam, Allahabad, to know about the awareness of general population about Homoeopathy. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted on patients and people visiting the health check-up camp and exhibition stall set-up during Magh Mela at Sangam, Allahabad. A self-administered questionnaire was used during the survey, devised by the Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy. Results: Of 1144 total respondents, 68.1% had knowledge about Homoeopathy. About 46.6% of respondents believed that it has no side effects and 15.1% believed that it is cost-effective. The diseases for which most of the participants have taken homoeopathic treatment were fever, common cold, constipation and diarrhoea. Conclusion: General population has knowledge about Homoeopathy, but various misconceptions are also prevalent. Awareness campaigns are needed to make people more aware about Homoeopathy and its effectiveness in various disorders.

Keywords: Awareness, Epidemic, Homoeopathy, India, Medicines, Survey


How to cite this article:
Sarangi MR, Pramanik A, Gupta J, Prasad R, Singh P, Shah M, Upadhyay AK, Jain S, Pandey A, Kumar A, Rakshit G, Khurana A, Manchanda RK. A survey regarding awareness and beliefs about Homoeopathy among general population during Magh Mela at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. Indian J Res Homoeopathy 2019;13:12-21

How to cite this URL:
Sarangi MR, Pramanik A, Gupta J, Prasad R, Singh P, Shah M, Upadhyay AK, Jain S, Pandey A, Kumar A, Rakshit G, Khurana A, Manchanda RK. A survey regarding awareness and beliefs about Homoeopathy among general population during Magh Mela at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. Indian J Res Homoeopathy [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Sep 17];13:12-21. Available from: http://www.ijrh.org/text.asp?2019/13/1/12/255270




  Introduction Top


Health promotion and illness prevention are important strategies for maintaining and improving health. Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over their health and its determinants and thereby improve their health.[1] Illness prevention is concerned with avoiding disease and involves health promotion behaviour that prevents disease and improves the overall quality of life. Within Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) system of medicines, Homoeopathy is well recognised. Interest and use of and research into Homoeopathy is on the increase in recent times even in developed countries. According to the Government of India report,[2] around 10% of India's population, i.e., more than 100 million people, depend solely on Homoeopathy for their healthcare.

The Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH), an autonomous body under the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India, participates in Health Melas, AYUSH cultural programmes, community talks providing health tips, public health lectures and free health check-up/outpatient departments (OPDs) to generate public awareness. One such health mela was conducted during Magh Mela 2017. Magh Mela is an annual gathering of Hindu pilgrims in Prayag, on the banks of Triveni Sangam. This Mela is held every year during the Hindu month of Magh (corresponding from mid-January to mid-February), and the important holy bathing dates are spread over a period of 45 days. A large number of people from across India arrive here annually and stay in makeshift houses or tents at the Sangam, spending the entire month of Magh in prayers. It is estimated that around 30 million people visited the Magh Mela in 2017. Various arrangements were made by the Centre and State Government agencies for the mass gathering (MG) during this period. The Ministry of AYUSH through its various research councils also participated in the event and made arrangements for health promotion and illness prevention of the general public, through organising health camps and creating awareness by putting up information display stall, distributing information, education and communication material, through interpersonal communication and counselling.

There have been efforts by the government and stakeholders for promoting Homoeopathy. To plan an effective strategy towards this, there is a dire need for information on the utilisation of Homoeopathy by the community. The National surveys of National Health Service (NHS) patients General Practice 1998 and National surveys of NHS patients General Practice 2002 are such efforts to evaluate the health services provided by the government.[3],[4] There are studies which deal with various aspects of traditional and complementary medicine in India,[5],[6] but there are very few studies or surveys particularly on awareness of Homoeopathy. This study was undertaken to explore the awareness/trend of general population towards Homoeopathy, their various beliefs, preferences and practices during a MG where people from all over India visit.


  Methods Top


A survey on public awareness in Homoeopathy was conducted by CCRH, New Delhi, on patients and visitors attending the OPD/health check-up clinics and CCRH stall set-up during Magh Mela at Triveni Sangam, Allahabad, which was held during January 2017–February 2017. Physicians from different peripheral institutes and units of CCRH were deputed for the same. A self-administered questionnaire was developed by scientists at CCRH Headquarters, which was filled during the fair [Questionnaire 1]. The questionnaire was in English and Hindi and was short and simple having nine questions with appropriate options which took 5–7 min to complete. It included two sections; the first section consisted of individual's personal/social information and the second section contained nine questions regarding individuals’ knowledge, attitude and practice of Homoeopathy. The personal/social information included name, age, gender, address, occupation and level of education. The knowledge part consists of three questions about one's awareness, about Homoeopathy and its source of information and about government homoeopathic hospitals/dispensaries and role of Homoeopathy in epidemic conditions. The attitude part included questions regarding conditions in which Homoeopathy is most useful/helpful, why Homoeopathy is preferred from other systems and reasons for not using homoeopathic treatment by an individual. The practice part included questions regarding acceptability/usage of homoeopathic medicine for disease and from where medicine/treatment was taken.



The respondents were informed verbally about the purpose of the study and participation in the study was taken as their consent. Inclusion criteria for our survey included all patients and visitors of either sex and of any age attending the health check-up clinics and CCRH stall during Magh Mela 2017. The data were checked, cleaned and entered into the computer and were managed on an Excel Spreadsheet. SPSS version 20 (IBM SPSS Statistics) was used for statistical analysis of the data.


  Results Top


A total of 1144 questionnaires were distributed, and all were filled and returned (participation rate 100%). The survey covered 1144 patients and individuals who visited the health check-up camp and CCRH stall during the fair.

Demographic data

The mean age of respondents was 30.5 ± 13.9 years; more than half of the individuals were male (937; 81.9%) and the rest were female (207; 18.1%). Majority of the individuals who participated in the survey were mostly from Uttar Pradesh followed by Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Delhi, Haryana, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and from neighbouring country Nepal. Most of the individuals were educated, among them 439 (38.4%) were graduate, 222 (19.4%) were post-graduate or above, 187 (16.3%) have secondary level of education, 101 (8.8%) were having primary education only, and 70 (6.1%) were illiterate. In the survey, highest percentage of most of the responders were students 43.1%, followed by persons in government services 14.9%, farmers 10.1%, homemakers 8.1%, persons having their own business 7.4% etc., [Table 1].
Table 1: Demographic data

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Knowledge about Homoeopathy

Of 1144 responders, 68.1% of people came to know about Homoeopathy from sources such as family 43.4%, friends 32.9%, newspaper 9.0%, electronic media 6.3%, more than one of these sources 1.9% and various other sources 6.5%, while 31.9% do not have any information about Homoeopathy. Among the people who know about Homoeopathy, 44.2% were school/college/graduate students, 16.7% were in government services and 10.0% were farmers, while 41.7% of them were graduates and 22.5% were post-graduate, and interestingly, 3.7% of them were illiterate and 8.1% had primary education [Table 2] and [Table 3]. Among the respondents who were not aware about Homoeopathy, 40.8% were students, 11% were government servants, 10.1% of respondents were farmers and 9.6% respondents were homemakers.
Table 2: Occupation

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Table 3: Level of Education

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Homoeopathy as preferred method of treatment

On enquiring whether Homoeopathy is their preferred method of treatment or not, 49.0% responded negatively while 51.0% positively, and among those using Homoeopathy, highest percentage is of graduate 20.7% and post-graduates 13% based on education criteria and students 21.6%, persons in government services 9.1% etc., based on the occupation of the participants [Table 4] and [Table 5].
Table 4: Level of Education

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Table 5: Occupation

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Homoeopathy in various diseases: Beliefs and knowledge

Among the surveyed population, 21.6% believed that homoeopathic treatment is beneficial in geriatric complaints, while 19.5% believed for chronic illness, 10.1% believed for adolescent problems, 13.8% believed for childhood problems, 6% believed for skin diseases etc., [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Usefulness of Homoeopathy in different complaints: A general view

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It was also noticed from the survey that 52.9% of people know about any Government Homoeopathic Hospital/Dispensary near their residences, while 47.1% have no information about this [Table 6]. Only 52.4% of people knew about the use of homoeopathic medicines as preventive in epidemic disease, of which 21.2% were graduate, 13.2% were post-graduate, 8% had secondary level of education and 4.2% had primary level of education. Twenty-three percentage of students and 9.4% of persons in government services knew about the use of homoeopathic medicines in epidemic diseases. Among the epidemic disease for which homoeopathic treatment is effective, people responded that they know about usefulness of homoeopathic medicines in dengue (15%), influenza (12.3%), chikungunya (8.3%) etc., [Figure 2] and [Table 6].
Table 6: Attitude towards use of Homoeopathy

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Figure 2: Knowledge about use of Homoeopathy in epidemic diseases in general population

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In the survey, 76.3% of persons responded that Homoeopathy is better than other systems of treatment and the reason for that being no side effects 46.6%, cost-effective 15.1%, pala[Table 5]% etc., [Figure 3], and among these population, 32.2% were students, 12.8% were in government services and 8.3% were farmers etc., [Figure 4]. Out of the population that know about the Homoeopathy, 85.1% of people have taken homoeopathic medicines from qualified practitioner. When enquired about reason for not using homoeopathic treatment for their illness, 60% mentioned that they not have proper information about treatment, while 19.8% of people do not use it because of the belief that it is slow in action and 0.1% has mentioned side effects as its main reason [Table 6]. The complaints for which people have taken homoeopathic medicine were fever (32.1%), common cold (15.3%), constipation (11.5%), diarrhoea (3.6%), others (15.6%) etc., [Figure 5].{table 5}
Figure 3: Preference of Homoeopathy over other systems – reasons

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Figure 4: Is Homoeopathy better than other systems of medicine

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Figure 5: Complaints for which homoeopathic medicines were taken

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Overall, in this survey, 779 (68.1%) responders had knowledge about Homoeopathy, whereas 365 (31.9%) had no knowledge about Homoeopathy. Among those, who have responded positively about Homoeopathy, were further assessed for three more variables; those who have taken homoeopathic treatment 667 (85.6%) and those who have not taken homoeopathic treatment 112 (14.4%); secondly those who said Homoeopathy is their first line of treatment 397 (51.0%) and those who said no 382 (49.0%); finally those who believed Homoeopathy system is better than others 594 (76.3%) and those who did not 382 (23.7%).

Knowledge about Homoeopathy seems to have correlated with age group (χ2 = 9.498 [Yates corrected]; P = 0.0497 [Yates corrected]), whereas Homoeopathy as first line of treatment and homoeopathic system as better than other systems had no significant relation with age group (χ2 = 1.956 [Yates corrected]; P = 0.744 [Yates corrected]) and (χ2 = 2.732 [Yates corrected]; P = 0.604 [Yates corrected]), respectively.

Knowledge about Homoeopathy seems to be influenced with education (χ2 = 41.795 [Yates corrected]; P = 0.0001 [Yates corrected]) and occupation (χ2 = 10.46 [Yates corrected]; P = 0.0150 [Yates corrected]) of the responder, whereas other variables were not influenced by level of education and occupation [Table 7].
Table 7: Variables score

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  Discussion Top


Most of the responders of the survey were males from the age group of 21–40 years and mostly comprised students followed by people in government services. More than half of the responders (i.e., 68.1%) know about Homoeopathy either from their family or from their friends, which corroborates with the result of study, that the influence of family and friends was the most common reason for trying these treatment modalities;[7] it came out in our study that around 3% of responders (mainly illiterate) have information about Homoeopathy and used it for their ailments; among the responders who know about Homoeopathy, the highest percentage was that of students 44.2% and most of them were graduates 41.7%, followed by 16.7% of responders in government services who know and had used it at some point in their life. It was observed that majority of the responders (52.9%) know about the availability of homoeopathic treatment in government Hospital/dispensaries near their residence and take treatment from an qualified medical practitioner. Regarding the use in epidemic diseases, 15% of individuals know its use in dengue followed by influenza and chikungunya disease.

Homoeopathy with other complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is commonly used by the patients for chronic diseases, as shown in a survey where 20% of patients used Homoeopathy for pain management in case of rheumatoid arthritis[8] and 11.4% of patients prefer Homoeopathy for serious ailments,[5] while in this survey, majority believe that it is useful in complaints related to old age followed by chronic diseases, adolescent problems, childhood problems and skin diseases. More than 70% of population believed that Homoeopathy is better than other systems, reason for that being no side effects, low cost of treatment and easy to take medicines, which corresponds with the study of Singh et al.[5] The initial homoeopathic consultation and the process of searching for the appropriate medication were confidence-inspiring confirmations of the validity of homoeopathic therapy as seen in the study done by Schmacke et al.,[9] is also a factor for choosing Homoeopathy which was not observed in our survey. Contrary to the belief in Homoeopathy over other systems, in this survey, only nearly 50% of responders prefer this as their first line of treatment, most of them were being graduates and post-graduates.

The complaints for which most of the surveyed population had taken treatment were fever, common cold, constipation, diarrhoea etc. Although 18% of females participated in the survey, around 5% of them used Homoeopathy for female-related complaints, which corroborates with other studies that have documented the use of Homoeopathy in women's reproductive health;[10],[11] whereas in another study by Shah et al., none of the female respondents consulted Homoeopathy for female-related diseases.[12]

In this survey, it was observed that, despite their knowledge and beliefs about Homoeopathy, their attitude towards its use in treatment of their illness is different [Figure 6]. It does not reveal the socioeconomic dimensions of the population. Too much generalisation had been done in respect to the morbid conditions for which homoeopathic medicines had been taken; more specific conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in place of arthritis should have been included in the survey. The use of other CAMs/conventional medicine could have been included in this survey along with the role of private sector/practitioners in this field. At the same time, this survey paves the way to conduct more studies in this direction.
Figure 6: A view on knowledge, belief and attitude of general population about Homoeopathy

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  Conclusion Top


In this survey, it was observed that general population have knowledge about Homoeopathy, but certain myths or misconceptions were also present, and it is also evident that use of homoeopathic treatment is restricted only for common ailments mostly due to lack of awareness of its usefulness in wide range of diseases and disorders. As the survey was done on a small population in a region, it is very difficult to extrapolate about the general awareness and utilisation of Homoeopathy; a nationwide survey is needed to be done to exactly know about the status of awareness about Homoeopathy in general population across the country.

Acknowledgement

The authors acknowledge Dr. Varanasi Roja, Research Officer (H)/Scientist-2, CCRH, for her valuable suggestions during drafting of the manuscript. The authors are also thankful to the participants for their participation in this study.

Financial support and sponsorship

The study was supported by the Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, New Delhi.

Conflicts of interest

None declared.



 
  References Top

1.
Park K. Park's Textbook of Preventive and Social Medicine. 19th ed. Jabalpur: M/s Banarsidas Bhanot Publishers; 2007.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Prasad R. Homoeopathy booming in India. Lancet 2007;370:1679-80.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Airey C, Bruster S, Erens B, Lilley SJ, Pickering K, Pitson L. National surveys of NHS patients: General Practice 1998. London: NHS Executive; 1999.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Boreham R, Airey C, Erens B, Tobin R. National surveys of NHS patients: General Practice 2002. London: 2003.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Singh P, Yadav RJ, Pandey A. Utilization of indigenous systems of medicine and homoeopathy in India. Indian J Med Res 2005;122(2):137-42.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Jawla S, Gupta AK, Singla R, Gupta V. General awareness and relative popularity of allopathic, ayurvedic and homoeopathy. J Chem Pharm Res 2009;1(1):105-12.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Tandon M, Prabhakar S, Pandhi P. Pattern of use of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) in epileptic patients in a tertiary care hospital in India. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf 2002;11(6):457-63.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Zaman T, Agarwal S, Handa R. Complementary and alternative medicine use in rheumatoid arthritis: An audit of patients visiting a tertiary care centre. Natl Med J India 2007;20(5):236-9.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Schmacke N, Müller V, Stamer M. What is it about homeopathy that patients value? And what can family medicine learn from this? Qual Prim Care 2014;22(1):17-24.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Kaplan B. Homoeopathy: 2. In pregnancy and for the under-fives. Prof Care Mother Child 1994;4(6):185-7.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Beal MW. Women's use of complementary and alternative therapies in reproductive health care. J Nurse Midwifery 1998;43(3):224-34.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Shah SF, Mubeen SM, Mansoor S. Concepts of homeopathy among general population in Karachi, Pakistan. J Pak Med Assoc 2010;60(8):667-70.  Back to cited text no. 12
    


    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7]



 

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