Is Traditional Chinese Medicine Use Associated with Worse Patient-reported Outcomes among Chinese American Rheumatology Patients?

Journal Article (Journal Article)

OBJECTIVE: Chinese Americans are a fast-growing immigrant group with more severe rheumatic disease manifestations than whites and often a strong cultural preference for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). We aimed to examine TCM use patterns and association with patient-reported outcomes (PRO) among Chinese American rheumatology patients. METHODS: Chinese Americans actively treated for systemic rheumatic diseases were recruited from urban Chinatown rheumatology clinics. Data on sociodemographics, acculturation, clinical factors, and TCM use (11 modalities) were gathered. Self-reported health status was assessed using Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) short forms. TCM users and nonusers were compared. Factors independently associated with TCM use were identified using multivariable logistic regression. RESULTS: Among 230 participants, median age was 57 years (range 20-97), 65% were women, 71% had ≤ high school education, 70% were on Medicaid insurance, 47% lived in the United States for ≥ 20 years, and 22% spoke English fluently. Half used TCM in the past year; these participants had worse self-reported anxiety, depression, fatigue, and ability to participate in social roles and activities compared with nonusers. In multivariable analysis, TCM use was associated with belief in TCM, female sex, ≥ 20 years of US residency, reporting Western medicine as ineffective, and shorter rheumatic disease duration. CONCLUSION: Among these Chinese American rheumatology patients, TCM users had worse PRO in many physical and mental health domains. TCM use may be a proxy for unmet therapeutic needs. Asking about TCM use could help providers identify patients with suboptimal health-related quality of life who may benefit from targeted interventions.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Sun, K; Szymonifka, J; Tian, H; Chang, Y; Leng, JC; Mandl, LA

Published Date

  • December 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 46 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 1634 - 1639

PubMed ID

  • 31043540

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7256873

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0315-162X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3899/jrheum.181148


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Canada