A new research paper led by Dr Robert Mathie, the British Homeopathic Association’s Research Adviser, puts forward a new method for evaluating an important area in homeopathic research.

The paper is published in BMC Medical Research Methodology – an open-access, online, peer-reviewed, scientific journal – and looks at the problem that, hitherto, there has been no method available to assess the quality and relevance of the homeopathy used in randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of homeopathy. This is termed an RCT’s model validity.

The work was initiated by Dr Mathie at a meeting of the International Scientific Committee for Homeopathic Investigations (ISCHI) in October 2010. The group succeeded in developing a set of six judgmental domains, with associated descriptive criteria, to enable the assessment of model validity of homeopathic treatment in the context of RCTs.

“Together with Cochrane-style assessment of internal validity, the domains and criteria for appraising model validity can enable a complete critical appraisal of appropriate RCTs in homeopathy,” said Dr Mathie.

“With suitable amendment,” he continued, “the approach is also relevant for assessing model validity in RCTs of complex interventions more generally, including other CAM disciplines.”

The paper has been received enthusiastically by reviewers, with one calling it “an article of outstanding merit and interest in its field”, while it was also recognised for addressing “a major methodological issue in the design and assessment of homeopathic clinical trials”.

The open-access nature of the journal means that the full text of the paper is available to all users of the internet.

The article can be downloaded at www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2288/12/49