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All About the Health Technology Assessment

The NHAA is supporting a potentially game-changing piece of research that will underpin the legitimacy of our profession both in Australia and internationally.  Known as the Health Technology Assessment (HTA), this document compiles all the available evidence for naturopathic medicine, including herbalism, that can be used by governments, policy makers and the media around the world.

Leading this project is Associate Professor Jon Wardle and Doctor Amie Steel from the Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM) at the University of Technology, Sydney.  With the support of the World Naturopathic Federation, work has already begun on the HTA.  It’s a huge undertaking, involving the review of thousands of peer-reviewed research papers and citations.  They are also surveying naturopathic treatments across more than one dozen countries.

Why is the Health Technology Assessment needed?

Around 6.2% of Australians have attended a naturopath consultation according to a national cross-sectional survey performed in 2017 1, and naturopaths are one of the top four most commonly consulted complementary healthcare practitioners in Australia, alongside massage therapists, chiropractors and acupuncturists. 2

However, the Australian government has been slow to recognise the role of naturopathy in community health care and has even removed the rights of people to claim naturopathic consultations on their . A long-running campaign by the NHAA and others to establish professional registration for naturopaths has so far been resisted by the Federal Government. In addition, a series of scandals involving dangerous treatments by self-declared naturopaths has damaged the reputation of the profession.

The HTA aims to provide an official framework to better understand naturopathy and integrate naturopathic practices into the delivery of health services. An HTA will serve as a single source of truth for the evidence for naturopathy, bolstering our profession against poor policy decisions such as the removal of private health fund rebates and underpinning the legitimacy of our treatments.

The final HTA will be a 400 page textbook, with chapters on the effectiveness of naturopathic practice in key health areas, as well as background chapters defining naturopathic concepts, philosophy, history, therapies and practice. The creation of such a comprehensive reference document on Naturopathic practice has the potential to impact not just Australia, but also global health policy.

That’s because the key focus of the World Naturopathic Federation (WNF) for the next 1-2 years is to produce an HTA on naturopathy of the highest standard. This will support the WNF to achieve official collaboration status with the World Health Organisation (WHO), to recognise and promote the importance of naturopaths as key primary health care providers throughout the world.
At the end of 2019 we launched the Future Fund, with the primary goal being to fund the HTA. Thanks to our members’ generous donations, we have been able to get the HTA underway.

  1. McIntyre E, Adams J, Foley H, Harnett J, Leach MJ, Reid R, Schloss J, Steel A. Consultations with Naturopaths and Western Herbalists: Prevalence of Use and Characteristics of Users in Australia. J Altern Complement Med. 2019;25(2):181-188.
  2. Reid R, Steel A, Wardle J, Trubody A, Adams J. Complementary medicine use by the Australian population: a critical mixed studies systematic review of utilisation, perceptions and factors associated with use. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016 Jun 11;16:176. PMID: 27289517