THE UTILIZATION OF TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE AMONG CANCER PATIENTS

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Abstract

Background

The increasing use of complementary and alternative medicine in Western countries and Asian population was reported in recent 10 years. The purpose of this study is to investigate patterns of the use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in cancer patients in Taiwan.

Methods

We used insurance claims data from the National Health Insurance Research Database, a universal insurance program with a coverage rate of more than 99% of the population in Taiwan. We identified 21,401 patients with newly diagnosed cancer during the period 1997–2008. The records of TCM use after cancer diagnosis within 1 year were collected. This study calculated odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of factors associated first-year TCM use in cancer patients by using multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Results

The first-year prevalence of TCM use in cancer patients was 29.2%. The first-year TCM use for cancer patients in 1997 was 24.8% increased to 32.6% in 2008. Women (OR = 1.15, 95% CI = 1.07–1.23), higher income (OR = 1.26, 95% CI = 1.13–1.40) and previous TCM use experience (OR = 4.40, 95% CI = 4.12–4.69) were factors associated with first-year TCM use in cancer patients. In subtypes of cancer patients, the highest average of TCM visits and medical expenditure in men and women were breast cancer patients (6.6 ± 7.8 visits, 120 ± 141 USD) and bladder cancer patients (8.2 ± 12.4 visits, 153 ± 231 NTD), respectively.

Conclusions

TCM use is common among cancer patients in Taiwan. The interactions between TCM herbal medicine and western medicine pharmaceuticals need concerns.

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