Naturopathic management of acute pediatric respiratory infections: a modified Delphi study

Leslie Solomonian*, Jamine Blesoff, Luciano Garofalo, Sandra Lucas, Andrea Picardo, Anne Garber, Mariah Wilson, Matthew Leach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Objective: Both the United Nations and the World Health Organization have identified antimicrobial resistance as a significant threat to global health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified five pediatric respiratory conditions as requiring particular scrutiny in terms of antibiotic stewardship. This study sought to identify strategies used by experienced naturopathic practitioners to treat acute respiratory infections in children. The authors theorize that naturopathic strategies safely fill the gap between watchful waiting and antibiotic prescription, thus reducing the use of antibiotics.

Methods: Naturopathic practitioners in Canada, the United States, and Australia with a minimum of 5 years of experience in clinical naturopathic care of children were recruited for a modified Delphi study. A 14-person panel of practitioners was selected to complete a series of four iterative surveys assessing agreement to statements in five domains of knowledge/attitudes, assessment/diagnosis, management, monitoring, and education. Items were deemed to have reached consensus if they reached a predetermined threshold of 70% agreement, or failed to reach a threshold of 40% agreement. Items between these boundaries were modified and retested until either consensus was reached or the four surveys had been completed.

Results: Results yielded a large degree of agreement on core naturopathic approaches to the management of acute pediatric respiratory infections, especially lifestyle strategies, including adequate rest and dietary recommendations. The use of vitamins C and D was strongly supported, as were herbs, particularly echinacea and elderberry. Some hydrotherapy and topical applications specific to the individual focus on infection also reached consensus. Results suggested that most respondents, even if they have the authority to prescribe antibiotics, rarely deem it necessary to do so.

Conclusion: Findings of this study provide (1) clarity on the role of naturopathic doctors in the management of pediatric health concerns and the stewardship of antibiotics; and (2) initial guidance to less experienced naturopathic practitioners. The findings also identify key priorities for research into the safety and effectiveness of naturopathic interventions to reduce the unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0669
Pages (from-to)181-195
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number3
Early online date24 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • antibiotic stewardship
  • Delphi
  • naturopathy
  • pediatric
  • respiratory tract infection


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