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Linde, Klaus; Friedrichs, Clara; Alscher, Anna; Blank, Wolfgang A.; Schneider, Antonius; Faessler, Margrit; Meissner, Karin (2013): Use of Placebos and Nonspecific and Complementary Treatments by German Physicians - Rationale and Development of a Questionnaire for a Nationwide Survey. In: Forschende Komplementärmedizin, No. 5: pp. 361-367




Background: We are performing a nationwide survey in a random sample ofGerman general practitioners (GPs), orthopedists, and internists on theuse of placebos and nonspecific as well as complementary treatments andtheir association with basic professional attitudes. In this article weexplain the theoretical considerations behind the study approach and thedevelopment of the questionnaire. Methods: Based on a systematic reviewof published surveys, own surveys on the topic, and on theoreticalconsiderations we developed a preliminary version of a 4-pagequestionnaire that was tested for feasibility in a convenience sample of80 participants of a general medical education event. We also performedcognitive interviews with 8 physicians to investigate whether thequestions were understood adequately. Results: The questions on typicalplacebos and complementary treatments were well understood and easy toanswer for participants. Discussions about the phrasing of questions onnonspecific treatments during interview reflected the vagueness of thisconcept; but this did not seem to create major problems when answeringthe related questions. The original questions regarding basicprofessional attitudes partly were not understood in the mannerintended. The relevant questions were modified but the interviewssuggest that these issues are difficult to grasp in a quantitativesurvey. Conclusion: Our testing procedures suggest that ourquestionnaire is well-suited to investigate our questions with somelimitations regarding the issue of basic professional attitudes.