Share this Article
Correspondence: Dr Loh Chee Hong, email@example.com
Introduction In a country dominated by western healthcare, interest in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is growing. The increasing popularity of TCM, occasionally used with conventional medicine, needs to be assessed, especially in a vulnerable paediatric population. This paper sought to evaluate the use of TCM in children, mainly to determine the common conditions they seek TCM, the pattern of acupuncture or herbal usage for various age groups, the extent of concurrent usage of TCM and conventional medicine, and the reasons for TCM use. Paediatricians’ perceptions of TCM will allow us to gauge the acceptability of TCM by those who practise conventional medicine. These are assessed in another arm of this study, with a set of predictive characteristics for their personal TCM use, their perceptions of herb/acupuncture safety, and their own referral to TCM eventually determined.
Methods An anonymous questionnaire was administered on 300 parents awaiting consultation at a large TCM clinic. Next, a separate qualitative questionnaire survey form was posted to 100 paediatricians.
Results Herb usage in children is very common (84.3 percent) and 80 percent of parents admitted concurrent usage of TCM and conventional medicine for their children. Drug-herb interactions was an issue of concern for paediatricians. Paediatricians with a higher level of self-reported TCM knowledge were more likely to refer for a cure.
Conclusion This was the first study to determine the characteristics of children attending a large TCM clinic in a country which is dominated by western healthcare. It also provided insight into the perceptions of TCM among paediatricians in Singapore. Specifically, it gave us an idea of the predictor traits that determine their referral patterns to TCM and their perceptions of herb and acupuncture safety.
Singapore Med J 2009; 50(12): 1162-1168