A Victorian hospital has employed a naturopath to the staff of an endometriosis clinic.

This is despite an admission by the Technology/Clinical Practice Committee that ‘There is no good evidence of effectiveness for naturopathic advice in patients with endometriosis.’

Endometriosis is a painful condition characterised by bloating, period pain, heavy or irregular bleeding and occurs when the tissue that normally lines the uterus (the endometrium) is found outside the uterus. Endometriosis can be a chronic, recurring condition and occurs in approximately 10% of women. The causes are not fully understood, but treatments include surgery, hormone therapy as well as medication for pain relief.

In a bizarre decision summary (full pdf here), released by the Committee, of the Southern Health Moorrabbin Hospital, they state;

The applicants have stipulated that the naturopath will not initiate discussions about naturopathic medication, however it is anticipated that patients may bring this up. In this situation the naturopath will advise that there is no evidence for safety or effectiveness (my emphasis).

This seems in stark contrast to the role of the committee which is described as ‘to ensure that new technologies and clinical practices at Southern Health are introduced within a rigorous and evidence-based framework’.

The decision summary also states that;

‘The naturopath will not be prescribing..’ but will ‘be providing dietary and exercise advice and general health measures.’

It’s curious therefore that the hospital did not employ a dietitian, who could easily fulfill such a role without the humiliation of having to tell patients that there is ‘no evidence for the safety and efficacy’ of their own profession.

The proposal was also put forward in 2008, but rejected. It is not clear why it was approved on this occasion.

In the decision summary, the committee states (perhaps in acknowledgement of the lack of evidence) that the ‘This clinic will provide opportunities for research into the role of naturopathy in endometriosis.’

The position will be trialled for two years, then reviewed with the option of making it permanent.

Thanks to Jo and Kathy for the tip off.


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