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Strengths and weaknesses of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine in the eyes of some Hong Kong Chinese
  1. T P Lam
  1. Family Medicine Unit, Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, 3/F, Apleichau Clinic, 161 Main Street, Apleichau, Hong Kong
  1. Dr Lam (tplam{at}


OBJECTIVE To explore the attitudes of Hong Kong Chinese towards the strengths and weaknesses of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Western medicine.

DESIGN Qualitative study of subjects' opinions using semi-structured focus group interviews.

SETTING Southern district of Hong Kong Island where many of the residents have a fisherman background.

PARTICIPANTS Twenty nine participants took part in eight focus group interviews.Measurements and main results—Participants' attitudes towards TCM and Western medicine were explored in the interviews. Both TCM and Western medicine are used concurrently by many people in Hong Kong. Patients make decisions on which type of doctors they want to see for the specific illnesses that they are suffering from. They consider both types of medicines to have strengths and weaknesses: TCM being better in curing the root of the problem but quite slow in action while Western medicine is more powerful but sometimes too powerful with significant side effects.

CONCLUSIONS It is important for medical practitioners to be aware of the health attitudes of their patients from different ethnic backgrounds. It will lead to a better patient-doctor relationship and better compliance of treatment.

  • Chinese medicine

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  • Funding: grant support for this study was received from Conference and Research Grants Committee, the University of Hong Kong.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.