Natural Therapies Review 2019-20 - invitation to submit published scientific research evidence citations on clinical effectiveness of natural therapies in tranche 1

Closed 21 Feb 2020

Opened 27 Jan 2020


On 7 April 2019, the Minister for Health announced an updated review of natural therapies. The review is being led by the Australian Government Chief Medical Officer (CMO) supported by the Natural Therapies Review Expert Advisory Panel (NTREAP) and utilising the expertise of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The announcement included that the CMO’s review would assess additional available evidence for natural therapies including undertaking public consultation and provide advice to Government on whether certain natural therapies should be eligible for subsidy through the private health insurance rebate.

Why your views matter

The scope of the review and this call for evidence

The Department is inviting stakeholders to submit citations for published scientific research studies for consideration in the Natural Therapies Review 2019-20. Please do not provide electronic or hard copy of studies. 

This call for evidence refers to the therapies in tranche one, specifically:

  • naturopathy;
  • Pilates;
  • Rolfing;
  • shiatsu;
  • tai chi;
  • western herbalism; and
  • yoga.

Studies on the clinical effectiveness of the above natural therapies in preventing and/or treating health conditions, disease or injuries in humans are being sought.

Evidence for the following natural therapies in tranche two is expected to be sought in mid-2020:

  • Alexander technique;
  • aromatherapy;
  • Bowen therapy;
  • Buteyko;
  • Feldenkrais;
  • homeopathy;
  • iridology;
  • kinesiology; and
  • reflexology.

Studies in scope of this call for evidence and potentially relevant for inclusion in the systematic reviews

For the above listed tranche one natural therapies, published scientific research studies will be considered for inclusion in the systematic reviews if they satisfy the following:

  • the population/participants in the study are people of any age, with or at risk of developing any injury, disease, medical condition or pre-clinical condition; 
  • the study evaluates the clinical effectiveness of the therapy in humans only. This includes whole-system, multi-component practice and may include components of the therapy (i.e. tools of the trade); and
  • the study reports human health outcomes in relation to prevention or treatment of a specific injury, disease, medical condition or pre-clinical condition.

Note: At the time of this call for evidence, no restrictions apply to publication date, language, geographical location, publication status or number of participants in the study. All evidence considered in scope of this call for evidence will be assessed by the evidence reviewers against the final research protocols approved by the NHMRC's Natural Therapies Working Committee (NTWC).

Evidence that is out-of-scope for this call for evidence and will be excluded from the systematic reviews

For the above listed tranche one natural therapies, published research evidence will not be considered for inclusion in the systemic reviews if the following apply:

  • it is a case report or not a scientific study, i.e. it is an expert opinion article, editorial, letter/email, detailed personal history/narrative, personal medical information/record, blog or newspaper article;
  • the study is not formally published (for example, in a book or non-peer reviewed journal article); or
  • the study was included in the 2014-15 Natural Therapies Review unless approved for reconsideration by the NTREAP.

Evidence for reconsideration by NTREAP

For the above listed tranche one natural therapies, published research evidence previously considered as part of the 2014-15 Natural Therapies Review will be provided to NTREAP for assessment to be reconsidered in the current review if a rationale for its reconsideration is provided.

As a guide, the systematic reviews included in the 2014-15 review were published between 1 January 2008 and January 2014. However a complete list of the citations (for tranche one natural therapies) considered for inclusion is provided in the attachment.


What happens next

How the citations will be managed

Receipt of all submissions should have been acknowledged by the Department. However, due to the high volume of submissions the Department will endeavour to publish a list of citations forwarded to the NHMRC for consideration and those which are out-of-scope, including the rationale for their exclusion. The Department will publish this list as soon as practical on finalisation of the research protocols in order to avoid any potential impact on their development, which has been affected by the Government response to COVID-19.

The citations for studies that are in scope of this call will be provided to the evidence reviewers for consideration.

Assessment against final research protocols

The scope of this call for evidence aligned with the draft research protocols.

The evidence reviewers will make the final assessment as to what studies will be included according to the inclusion/exclusion criteria documented in the final research protocols. The research protocols define and justify in advance which studies will be included (and excluded) in the review.

The final research protocols will made publically available on PROSPERO. PROSPERO is an international database of prospectively registered systematic reviews in health and social care.


  • Academics
  • Non-government organisations
  • Health professionals
  • Health workforce
  • General public


  • Health insurance