Research: WONG and colleagues, Q

Listed in Issue 35


WONG and colleagues, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada studied how Chinese patients consulting family physicians in Vancouver, Canada used traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), in particular Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture .



The authors conducted a bilingual (English and Chinese) survey among 4 family practices (932 patients or family members) with predominantly Chinese patients in Vancouver. The main outcome measures were demographic characteristics, frequency and reasons for visiting a family physician, Chinese herbalist or acupuncturist and their choice of practitioner if affected by one of 16 common conditions.


The study population was mainly Chinese and immigrants to Canada. 28% of respondents used Chinese herbal medicine, with more then one visit during the last year; another18% were past users of Chinese herbal medicine. 7% of respondents currently used acupuncture; another 8% had used acupuncture in the past. The use of Chinese herbal medicine varied significantly according to age, sex, immigrant status and ethnicity. Acupuncture use varied significantly only by age. The main reasons for consulting Chinese herbalists were infection (41%), respiratory problems (11%) and rheumatologic problems (10%), whereas acupuncturists were consulted almost exclusively for rheumatologic problems (80%).


The use of TCM along with consulting family physicians was very popular among this predominantly Chinese study population. Patients with acute health problems, such as influenza, consulted both their family physicians and Chinese herbalists, often in quick succession. However, those patients suffering more chronic conditions, including rheumatologic diseases, were more likely to start using TCM following repeat visits to their family physicians.


Wong LK et al. Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. How do patients who consult family physicians use these therapies? Can Fam Physician 44: 1009-15. May 1998.

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