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October 2021

J Altern Complement Med. 1998 Summer; 4(2): 189-202.

Chinese medicine users in the United States. Part II: Preferred aspects of care.

Cassidy CM.

The Traditional Acupuncture Institute, Inc., Columbia, Maryland, USA.

OBJECTIVES: While a limited amount of data describe who seeks Chinese medicine care and for what conditions, there have been few attempts to explain what users think the care does for them, or why they value and "like" the care. This article presents such data via an analysis of a sample of 460 handwritten stories collected as part of a mixed quantitative qualitative survey of 6 acupuncture clinics in 5 states. RESULTS: Quantitative data collected in this survey (Part I) showed that respondents were highly satisfied with their Chinese medicine care. The qualitative analysis found that respondents valued relief of presenting complaints as well as expanded effects of care including improvements in physiological and psychosocial adaptivity. In addition, respondents reported enjoying a close relationship with their Chinese medicine practitioner, learning new things, and feeling more able to guide their own lives and care for themselves. While these factors mesh well with Chinese medicine theory, respondents did not reveal familiarity with that theory. Instead, their language and experiences indicate familiarity with an holistic model of healthcare--and they seem to have experienced Chinese medicine care as holistic care. CONCLUSIONS: This finding matters because it shows that respondents are not seeking an 'exotic' kind of healthcare, but are utilizing a homegrown, if nonmainstream, model of healthcare. The finding also matters because it shows that an holistic health delivery model is not only feasible, but currently exists in the United States: how Chinese medicine practitioners are trained, and how they subsequently deliver their care, could serve as a model for American healthcare reform.

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