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Antibiomedicine belief and integrative health seeking in Taiwan

Social Science & Medicine
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.08.068
  • Antibiomedicine Belief
  • Integrative Health Seeking
  • Complementary/Alternative Medicine
  • Taiwan
  • Design
  • Medicine


Abstract The newly emerged concept of integrative medicine may provoke a closer investigation into the pattern of biomedicine use in the context of medical pluralism. In this study, I propose two concepts to examine the complicated cognitive and behavioural responses to biomedicine (Western medicine, xi-yi) in relation to the use of non-biomedical therapies in Taiwan, a society with renowned medical pluralism. Data came from a nation-wide telephone survey conducted during September 2002 among community-resident population aged 20 and older. The sample includes 1517 respondents. The first concept—antibiomedicine—includes three indicators to measure an individual's negative stance on xi-yi: overall competence, capability to cure from within, and side effects. Combined, these three indicators were further constructed into a single composite index: antibiomedicine beliefs. Integrative health seeking tackled two aspects of health seeking: selective use and adaptive use. The former concerns particularly the use of specific ingredients of biomedicine. In this study, emphasis was placed on the diagnosis versus treatment of xi- yi. The latter was focussed on the strategic uses of xi-yi in the face of its limitation and incompetence. Three types of adaptive health use were identified: alternative type, complementary type, and exclusive type. Results of the analyses indicate that antibiomedicine belief held explanatory potential to selective use and adaptive use of xi-yi. The study sheds light on further exploring the blending of health-seeking practices and “hybrid” medicine. It is suggested that novel explanatory constructs and more sophisticated study designs should be developed to articulate the sequential of pluralistic health-seeking process.

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