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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Factors associated with utilization of traditional Chinese medicine by white collar foreign workers living in Taiwan

Maria Daly1, Chen-Jei Tai23, Chung-Yeh Deng4 and Li-Yin Chien5*

Author Affiliations

1 Dublin Traveller Education and Development Group, Pavee Point, Dublin, Ireland

2 Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Taipei Medical University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China

3 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China

4 Institute of Hospital and Health Care Administration, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China

5 Institute of Clinical and Community Health Nursing, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China

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BMC Health Services Research 2009, 9:10  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-10

Published: 14 January 2009



Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has remained an integral part of Chinese culture and society for thousands of years. In Taiwan TCM is a recognized element of its National Health Insurance Scheme. However, there is no knowledge about how TCM is accessed by foreign workers from a non-Asian cultural background. The objectives of this study were to investigate the prevalence and patterns of TCM use among non-Asian white-collar workers living in Taiwan, and examine factors likely to influence their use of TCM.


This study applied a cross-sectional survey design. A total of 207 white-collar foreign workers of a non-Asian background currently holding National Health Insurance cards who had lived in Taiwan for 4 months or more participated in this study.


The prevalence of TCM use was 45%. The most frequently used therapies were traditional Chinese herbs/medicine and acupuncture. Factors indicating the likelihood of TCM usage were age 31–40 years, visit to an allopathic medical doctor in the last year, ability to read Chinese, having a friend or family member available to assist in the use of TCM, and access to information about TCM services available in Taiwan.


Utilization of TCM by people of a non-Asian background living in Taiwan appears to be most influenced by enabling factors including language ability, access to information, and informal reference persons.