Is the treatment in our best interest?

Before embarking on any treatment, consider how effective and safe it is.

Are there other treatments? How do they compare to the treatment I'm considering?

Explore and ask about alternatives. What are the pros and cons? Consider how the treatment may impact your lifestyle.

Have you talked to your medical practitioners?

Is the treatment supported by health and social services? Talk to your doctor, consultant and medical team. Ask for further information about the treatment. Ask if they think it's beneficial.

It can be important to have the agreement of your medical team. Some treatments, such as physiotherapy, may need follow-up at your local hospital. There would be little point paying a lot of money for a treatment if your GP or hospital can't provide the follow-up care.

What research or evaluation has taken place?

Especially if it's a fairly new treatment, it’s important to check that it has been properly researched and evaluated by independent experts.

  • Ask if the treatment has been subject to any randomised controlled medical trials. A study is not the same.
  • What literature has been published about it?
  • Is this information from a reliable, independent source?
  • Is the treatment available in the UK or will you have to travel overseas?

If it's not available in the UK, it’s even more important to check that:

  • research and clinical trials support any claims made
  • those giving the treatment are appropriately trained, qualified and insured
  • a reputable health or medical institution has supported the treatment
  • it meets UK regulations.

Is information about the treatment clear and understandable?

Information should be in plain English, even if it is a medical or surgical procedure. Take information away so you can read it carefully. Note any questions or things you don't understand. 

How long will the therapy last and how much will it cost?

Questions to ask:

  • What is the short- and long-term financial cost of this treatment?
  • How invasive or uncomfortable is it?
  • How long will the treatment take, in total and per session?
  • How will this affect my employment and personal life?
  • Will my child miss school or be away from friends and family?
  • Are there travelling costs?

If you experience a “hard sell” approach or are made to feel guilty if you don’t agree to the treatment, walk away. No reputable company, practitioner or health care provider will pressure you to have treatment unless it is life-saving. They may make recommendations, but the final decision is yours.

What is the stated or hoped for outcome of the treatment? What are the side-effects?

Try to get a clear understanding of what the treatment is expected to achieve. Ask:

  • What are the success rates in other patients?
  • What are the long- and short-term side-effects?
  • What care will be offered to address any side-effects?

All treatments or therapies will, in practice, mean that they may be unsuitable for people with certain conditions or in certain situations. This is called a contraindication. Even basic massage may not be appropriate if you have varicose veins, recent scar tissue or even a temporary contagious illness like a cold or flu. It’s important to ask questions about when you shouldn't have the treatment.

What if something goes wrong?

Consider what may happen if something goes wrong, particularly if you are travelling overseas for treatment.

  • Will the practitioners treating you be able to provide the necessary care and medical support if something goes wrong?
  • Will you be admitted to hospital in an emergency?
  • Do you have the financial means or insurance cover to meet the costs of medical intervention if you are out of the UK?

Scope does not endorse or recommend any treatments or therapies. Always consult a doctor or medical practitioner before starting or paying for any therapy.

Therapies available through mainstream healthcare

If you are undergoing a treatment that lies outside mainstream health care, be aware that some treatments and therapies suit some people more than others. 

Therapies and cerebral palsy

In a condition like cerebral palsy where the effects are different for each individual, a therapy may suit one person but not another.

Scope does not endorse or recommend any treatments or therapies.

Always consult a doctor or medical practitioner before starting or paying for any therapy.

For more information, please call 0808 800 33 33 or email helpline@scope.org.uk.