Use of Traditional Chinese Medicine by older Chinese immigrants in Canada

Fam Pract. 2007 Feb;24(1):56-64. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cml058. Epub 2006 Nov 21.


Background: Research is needed about the usage of complementary and alternative medicines within culturally diverse groups because of a growing number of people who use these remedies.

Objective: To understand the prevalence and predictors of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) use by older Chinese immigrants in Canada.

Methods: This is based on the data collected from a representative sample of 2167 elderly Chinese immigrants aged 55 years and above in seven Canadian cities. Logistic regression was used to estimate the probability of using TCM in combination with Western health services (WHS). Use of Chinese herbs, herbal formulas, and TCM practitioners (herbalists) was predicted, based upon the effects of predisposing, enabling and need factors.

Results: The response rate was 77%. Over two-thirds of the older Chinese immigrants reported using TCM in combination with WHS. About half (50.3%) of the older Chinese immigrants used Chinese herbs, 48.7% used Chinese herbal formulas, and 23.8% consulted a Chinese herbalist. Although separate analysis was conducted, similar predictors were identified. Country of origin, Chinese health beliefs, social support, city of residency, and health variables were the common predictors of using a form of TCM.

Conclusion: The combined use of TCM and WHS is common among elderly Chinese immigrants. Culture-related variables are important in determining use of TCM. The predictors identified should help physicians to recognize who among the elderly Chinese immigrants are more likely to use TCM so that a more in-depth understanding toward their health practices and needs can be achieved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Canada
  • China / ethnology
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys*
  • Health Services for the Aged / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional / methods
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Probability
  • Social Values / ethnology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Urban Population