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An International Comparison of Attitudes Toward Traditional and Modern Medicine in a Chinese and an American Clinic Setting

Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Publication Date
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Introduction. International comparative research on traditional medicine (TM) offers a useful method for examining differences in patient characteristics and can provide insight into: (i) more universal characteristics which may cross cultures and international borders; (ii) unique characteristics influenced by regional/national factors; and (iii) cultural values of immigrant populations. To explore these issues TM patients from the United States and China were compared. Methods. Data collection took place at two TM college clinics. A convenience sample of 128 patients in China and 127 patients in the United States completed a 28-item questionnaire. Results. There was a marked similarity between the two patient groups in terms of the biological characteristics of age and gender. Musculoskeletal issues were the most common presenting complaints in the United States; while in China TM was used for a more diverse array of conditions. The majority of patients in both countries had initially used allopathic medicine (AM); significantly, more of the United States respondents stopped allopathic treatment after beginning traditional treatment. In comparing the two countries, patients in China were significantly more satisfied with AM and American patients significantly more satisfied with TM. In comparing the two medicines, the patient samples in both countries were significantly more satisfied with TM than AM. Discussion. Although treatment often originated with allopathic providers, many patients sought alternatives presumably to find the best solution to their problems. This tendency toward self-assignment suggests that a pluralistic healthcare system may provide the greatest satisfaction resulting from personal choice and improved outcomes.

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