Open Access Open Badges Research article

Development of an integrated Sasang constitution diagnosis method using face, body shape, voice, and questionnaire information

Jun-Hyeong Do1, Eunsu Jang1, Boncho Ku1, Jun-Su Jang1, Honggie Kim2 and Jong Yeol Kim1*

Author Affiliations

1 Constitutional Medicine & Diagnosis Research Group, Medical Research Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, 1672 Yuseongdae-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 305-811, Republic of Korea

2 Department of Information and Statistic, Chungnam National University, 79 Daehang-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, 305-764, Republic of Korea

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:85  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-85

Published: 4 July 2012



Sasang constitutional medicine (SCM) is a unique form of traditional Korean medicine that divides human beings into four constitutional types (Tae-Yang: TY, Tae-Eum: TE, So-Yang: SY, and So-Eum: SE), which differ in inherited characteristics, such as external appearance, personality traits, susceptibility to particular diseases, drug responses, and equilibrium among internal organ functions. According to SCM, herbs that belong to a certain constitution cannot be used in patients with other constitutions; otherwise, this practice may result in no effect or in an adverse effect. Thus, the diagnosis of SC type is the most crucial step in SCM practice. The diagnosis, however, tends to be subjective due to a lack of quantitative standards for SC diagnosis.


We have attempted to make the diagnosis method as objective as possible by basing it on an analysis of quantitative data from various Oriental medical clinics. Four individual diagnostic models were developed with multinomial logistic regression based on face, body shape, voice, and questionnaire responses. Inspired by SCM practitioners’ holistic diagnostic processes, an integrated diagnostic model was then proposed by combining the four individual models.


The diagnostic accuracies in the test set, after the four individual models had been integrated into a single model, improved to 64.0% and 55.2% in the male and female patient groups, respectively. Using a cut-off value for the integrated SC score, such as 1.6, the accuracies increased by 14.7% in male patients and by 4.6% in female patients, which showed that a higher integrated SC score corresponded to a higher diagnostic accuracy.


This study represents the first trial of integrating the objectification of SC diagnosis based on quantitative data and SCM practitioners’ holistic diagnostic processes. Although the diagnostic accuracy was not great, it is noted that the proposed diagnostic model represents common rules among practitioners who have various points of view. Our results are expected to contribute as a desirable research guide for objective diagnosis in traditional medicine, as well as to contribute to the precise diagnosis of SC types in an objective manner in clinical practice.

Sasang constitution; Diagnosis; Face; Body shape; Voice; Questionnaire; Integration