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In the absence of robust trials supporting the efficacy of homoeopathy, people who criticise or, on the contrary, defend homoeopathy, refer to meta-analyses whose results support their point of view. We hypothesised that the discrepant results of meta-analyses of homoeopathic medicines were related to potential conflicts of interest (COIs). Indeed, there is evidence suggesting that COI influences research outcomes.1 While such association has recently been studied for various drugs and nutrition studies,2 3 it remains unexplored for homoeopathy trials.
The objective of this study was, therefore, to assess whether COI was associated with the results of meta-analyses of homoeopathy trials.
We conducted a literature search until July 2022 on PubMed and Embase to identify meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials assessing the efficacy of homoeopathy. There was no restriction on the investigational product or its comparator. The study population thus included patients with various medical conditions, including both children and adults. We assessed the existence of potential COI, defined by at least one of the following criteria: affiliation of one or more author to an academic homoeopathy research or care facility, or to a homoeopathy industry; study sponsored or funded by homoeopathy industry; COI declared by the authors. We also assessed and classified spin in meta-analyses conclusions into three categories (misleading reporting, misleading interpretation and inappropriate extrapolation) as previously described.4 Two reviewers assessed the quality of meta-analyses …
Contributors QP, CK and MR had full access to all data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. Concept and design: CK and MR. Acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data: QP, AC, AD, AG, CK and MR. Drafting of the manuscript: QP and MR. Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All. Statistical analysis: QP and CK. Obtained funding: NA. Administrative, technical or material support: None.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.