Survey finds efficacy of Chinese medicine widely recognised by gynaecological patients, Lingnan University urges establishment of joint clinic of traditional Chinese and Western medicine

3 Jul 2014


Traditional Chinese medicine has earned higher recognition in efficacy among gynaecological patients in Hong Kong, according to a recent survey conducted by the Asia-Pacific Institute of Ageing Studies (APIAS), Lingnan University. About 90% of the respondents believe traditional Chinese medicine has fewer side effects and performs better in health preservation respectively. More than half of the respondents said traditional Chinese medicine is better than Western medicine in “eradicating diseases”.

Entitled “Understanding Patients’ Treatment Preferences on the Use of Chinese Medicine for Gynaecological Diseases”, the survey was conducted to find out gynaecological patients’ attitude and behaviour towards traditional Chinese and Western medicine in treatment. On a scale of 1-5, traditional Chinese medicine has a higher satisfactory level than its Western counterpart’s corresponding scores in terms of effectiveness in treating the disease (3.58 vs 3.28), professionalism of medical personnel (3.98 vs 3.53) and the overall treatment process (3.78 vs 3.43). However, about one-third of the respondents (33.6%) agreed that Western doctors have better professional training, while only 11.2% think Chinese medical practitioners are better trained. All in all, users of Chinese medicine tend to speak highly of Chinese medicine’s efficacy and treatment experience.

Nearly 30% of the respondents also reported using Chinese and Western medicine in their treatment, showing a considerable interest in the mixed therapy. Dr Robert Chin Kien-howe, advisor of the survey and former gynaecologist of the Hospital Authority, called for an integrated clinic offering Chinese and Western medicine given their respective advantages in gynaecological treatment. “Since there is now a long queue for gynaecological specialist out-patient consultation in the public healthcare system, establishing an integrated clinic of Chinese and Western medicine can help increase the supply of gynaecological services to meet the soaring demand,” Dr Chin said.

Prof Alfred Chan Cheung-ming, Chair Professor of Social Gerontology of Lingnan University and Director of APIAS, pointed out that the survey findings echoed with the HKSAR Government’s plan in 1997 to position Hong Kong as an international centre for Chinese medicine manufacturing and trading, as well as for training specialists in traditional Chinese medicine. “The authorities should make good use of the human resources in this field to alleviate the supply shortage of Western medical services. It will not only offer more medical options for the people, but also pass on the great gem of Chinese heritage.”

The survey was conducted by the APIAS from May 2013 to May 2014 at Yan Chai Hospital-Hong Kong Baptist University Clinical Centre for Training and Research in Chinese Medicine (West Kowloon) and Yan Chai Hospital Gynaecology Specialist Clinic, with a total of 143 valid questionnaires received. All respondents were gynaecological patients aged over 15. Over half of them have secondary or post-secondary education. They included new and regular users of traditional Chinese medicine, as well as non-Chinese medicine users.

Key findings

Traditional Chinese and Western medicine have respective advantages in efficacy

Respondents agreed that both traditional Chinese and Western medicine have their own strengths and weaknesses. More than 70% of the respondents (75.5%) preferred Western medicine in terms of healing speed, while nearly 90% of them believe that traditional Chinese medicine causes fewer side effects (86.7%) and performs better in health preservation (89.5%). About 50% of the patients think traditional Chinese medicine performs better in eradicating diseases (51.0%). However, Western medical professionals are seen as having more professional training (33.6%) than their Chinese counterparts (11.2%).

Satisfied with efficacy of Chinese and Western medicine

Users of traditional Chinese and Western medicine are generally satisfied with the treatment efficacy, professional qualifications of the medical personnel and their experience in the treatment process. On a scale of 1-5, Chinese medicine users tend to rate higher of Chinese medicine than Western medicine users’ satisfactory level toward Western medicine in terms of “effectiveness in controlling the disease” (3.59 vs 3.33), “effectiveness in treating the disease” (3.58 vs 3.28), “venue and environment of treatment” (3.73 vs 3.43), “professionalism of doctors and healthcare personnel” (3.98 vs 3.53) and “overall treatment process” (3.78 vs 3.43).

About Asia-Pacific Institute of Ageing Studies (APIAS), Lingnan University
Founded in 1998, the Asia-Pacific Institute of Ageing Studies (APIAS) of Lingnan University is a pioneering and leading institute in the fields of gerontology in Hong Kong and in the Asia-Pacific region. With a high-calibre team specialised in research and course development, APIAS continually contributes to the facilitation and promotion of studies and services related to the ageing population, in which our achievements are well recognised by the academia, communities and authorities.

Please go to to download the survey report (Chinese only).