Objectives: The National Health Insurance (NHI) provided Western medicine (WM) and Chinese medicine (CM) in Taiwan. This study aims to explore CM use by women with breast cancer under NHI.
Methods: Using NHI Research Database, a retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted. Women with breast cancer were identified by diagnosis codes. Their claims of CM and WM outpatient services of 2007 were analyzed.
Results: Among 70,012 female breast cancer patients, the prevalence of insurance covered CM was 35.6%. Among all CM users, 4379 (17.5%) patients visited CM for breast cancer. More than half CM users (67.6%) had less than 6 visits and 16.3% users had more than 12 visits. The majority of CM users (87.6%) also used WM ambulatory services. Private clinics (76.7%) provided the most CM services, followed by private hospitals (16.9%). The most frequently used CM therapies were Chinese herbal medicine (80.5%), followed by acupuncture/traumatology manipulative therapies (22.3%). The average cost of CM was US$17.6 per visit and US$119.7 per user annually. CM users were more likely to be younger than 60 years old, employees, with higher income, and not living in Northern Taiwan.
Conclusions: A significant portion of breast cancer patients used insurance covered CM. Most CM users also used WM. The potential of drug-herb interactions should be concerned.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.