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HKBU scholar survey: about 70% of respondents find traditional Chinese medicine efficacious but 50% say it is not their preferred treatment option

31 Jul 2018


The School of Communication announced today (31 July) the results of a representative survey of Hong Kong people which found that about 70% of respondents consider traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) useful for preventive care and has fewer side effects than biomedicine, and over 65% believe that TCM can offer a permanent cure. That said, half the respondents said they would first consult biomedicine, and only when biomedicine fails would they consider TCM.


To understand Hong Kong people’s attitude towards biomedicine, TCM and medical treatment options, the research team led by the Department of Communication Studies Professor Kara Chan and School of Communication Lecturer Mr Lennon Tsang conducted an online survey of 1,321 Hong Kong residents aged 15 and above. The study revealed that 72% of interviewees agree that TCM is useful for preventive care, 70% consider that TCM has fewer side effects than biomedicine, 66% agree that TCM can offer a permanent cure and 51% even stated that TCM is better than biomedicine in achieving a permanent cure.


65% of respondents consider biomedicine to be more scientific than TCM, and 48% thought that rules governing biomedicine are more rigorous than those governing TCM. Over half the respondents (53%) said they would consult biomedicine first, but when biomedicine fails they would consider seeking TCM treatment. Those who thought that patients should not receive TCM and biomedical treatment concurrently stood at 49%.


The figures demonstrate that even those who consider TCM efficacious may not consult TCM practitioners when they fall ill. This may be explained by the fact that 48.5% of respondents said that TCM doctors’ experience and practices vary, and therefore, TCM treatment may not achieve the desired effect. In addition, 51% of respondents think that TCM doctors may not be able to give an accurate prescription because patients’ health and responses to TCM vary. 


The study entitled Attitudes toward Traditional Chinese Medicine in Hong Kong” was published in International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing (


Professor Kara Chan remarked that the research revealed that Hong Kong people generally find TCM efficacious, but are not convinced that all TCM practitioners meet a uniform minimum standard. To promote TCM in Hong Kong, related organisations should build up public trust in the professional standard of TCM practitioners. She suggested that education programmes should be organised to help people know more about TCM practitioners’ qualifications. To raise public trust in Chinese medical services, she hopes the government will establish the Chinese medicine hospital as soon as possible so that in-patient services and clinical research can be strengthened, which will in turn lead to the standardisation of Chinese medicine and further its recognition of being scientific.