Natural Therapies Review 2019-20 - Tranche 2 natural therapies invitation to submit published scientific research evidence citations on clinical effectiveness

Closed 23 Oct 2020

Opened 28 Sep 2020


On 7 April 2019, the Minister for Health announced an updated review of natural therapies. The Minister recently agreed the review will now be led by the Australian Government Deputy Chief Medical Officer (Deputy CMO), Professor Michael Kidd. The Deputy CMO will continue to be supported by the Natural Therapies Review Expert Advisory Panel (NTREAP) and utilise the expertise of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The announcement included that the 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 copies of studies (either electronic or hard copy). 

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

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

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.

Studies potentially eligible for inclusion in the systematic reviews

For the above listed tranche two natural therapies, citations for published scientific research studies will be provided to evidence reviewers to consider for inclusion in the systematic reviews if the studies 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

For the above listed tranche two natural therapies, published research evidence will not be provided to evidence reviewers to consider for inclusion in the systematic 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);
  • it is a single-arm study, i.e. all participants receive the natural therapy and there is no control or other intervention group for comparison; 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 NTREAP to assess the published research evidence previously included as part of the 2014‑15 Natural Therapies Review for reconsideration please state why it needs to again be considered for inclusion in this review (refer to the above information regarding studies potentially eligible for inclusion). Where this information is provided the Department will provide the citation to NTREAP to assess if it needs to be included for reconsideration (still subject to assessment against final protocol).

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 two natural therapies) considered for inclusion is provided in the attachment.

Note a rationale for reconsideration is not required for citations which were excluded from the 2014-15 review but are potenially eligible in 2019-20 review, e.g. single studies, non-English language, assess therapy components, or outside publication date restriction.


What happens next

How the citations will be managed

Receipt of all submissions should have been acknowledged by the Department. However, the Department will publish (on the Natural Therapies Review web page) a list of potentially eligible 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. This may take some time as the research protocols for all Tranche 2 natural therapies will need to be completed.

The NHMRC will provide the evidence reviewers with the citations for the studies that are potentially eligible for inclusion once the research protocols for each therapy are finalised.

Assessment against final 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