Insurance covered and non-covered complementary and alternative medicine utilisation among adults in Taiwan

Shu Fang Shih, Chih Yin Lew-Ting, Hsing Yi Chang, Ken N. Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has been characterized by prevalence, cost, and patterns of use. Factors determining its utilization have also been analyzed, either generally or for specific diseases, but few studies have considered the determinants of its frequency of use. Taiwan's pluralistic health care system and comprehensive insurance program covering Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) provide an interesting case to explore what forms of CAM people use, why and how often they use them. By using Taiwan's 2001 National Health Interview Survey and linking it with National Health Insurance (NHI) claims data, this study aims to investigate the socio-demographic, economic, behavioral and health determinants of use and frequency of use for both non-covered and covered CAM in Taiwan. The former consists of services practiced by non-regulated or non-NHI contracted practitioners and the latter includes those TCM covered by NHI. Our study showed that the determinants of using non-covered and covered CAM differ with respect to socio-demographic and behavioral factors, and health needs. Our evidence suggests that future CAM research must delineate between use and frequency of use to better understand the underlying factors contributing to initiation and continuity of CAM use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1183-1189
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
  • Help-seeking
  • National Health Insurance
  • Taiwan
  • Traditional chinese medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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