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Treating people with arthritis with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM): an examination of the perception of TCM practitioners
  1. Lu Yang,
  2. Wenbo Peng,
  3. Jon Adams,
  4. David William Sibbritt
  1. Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Broadway, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jon Adams, Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia; jon.adams{at}


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

Statistics from


  • Contributors LY and JA conceived and designed the study. LY, DWS and WP analysed the data. LY wrote an initial draft and all authors contributed to later drafts. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript accepted for publication.

  • Funding This work was supported in part by the China Scholarship Council (CSC grant no. 201408200026).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Detail has been removed from this case description/these case descriptions to ensure anonymity. The editors and reviewers have seen the detailed information available and are satisfied that the information backs up the case the authors are making.

  • Ethics approval University of Technology Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Correction notice This article has been updated since it published online first. The acknowledgements footnote was previously missing but is now inserted.

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