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Treating people with arthritis with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM): an examination of the perception of TCM practitioners

Abstract

Introduction Emerging evidence has shown that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a positive effect on arthritis. This research provides the first critical, systematic examination of TCM practitioners’ perceptions of TCM use for people with arthritis.

Methods An online survey was distributed to all TCM professionals including acupuncturists and Chinese herbal medicine practitioners registered with the Practitioner Research and Collaborate Initiative (PRACI) practitioner database. The survey questions focus on practitioner characteristics, practice characteristics and clinical management approaches regarding arthritis care.

Results The survey attracted a response rate of 53% (n=52). The average age of the respondents was 49.9 years, more than half were female, and the majority held a bachelor degree or higher qualification. More than two thirds of TCM practitioners in our study worked with other health professionals, while they had a high level of referral relationships with a wide range of conventional, allied health and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers. Most of the TCM practitioners reported that their patients with arthritis used other treatments alongside TCM and a large number of the TCM practitioners who participated believed that TCM was effective for treating arthritis.

Conclusions The TCM profession represents a substantial component of the healthcare field in Australia, and treating patients with arthritis appears to be an important area of TCM practice, among others. Further detailed research is needed to help ensure effective, safe patient care for those with arthritis who may be utilising TCM alongside a broader range of conventional medicine, allied health, and other CAM treatments.

  • acupuncture
  • herbal medicine

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