A Survey of Traditional Chinese Medicine use Among Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: A Claims Data-based Cohort Study

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Clinical Rheumatology

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Introduction/objectives: Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is commonly used for symptom relief in patients with chronic diseases. Nevertheless, large-scale surveys focusing on the utilization of TCM among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are limited, especially in Taiwan, where TCM is highly popular. This cohort study aimed to describe the utilization of TCM and determine the factors related to TCM usage among RA patients.

Method: A national health insurance database was used to identify 6532 newly diagnosed RA patients aged between 20 and 70 years, together with 12,246 subjects without RA matched by sex, age, and index year between 2000 and 2010. Incidence density of TCM use and its related factors was calculated by the Poisson regression model.

Results: Findings indicated that RA patients experienced higher incidence density of TCM use than non-RA patients, with an adjusted incidence density ratio of 1.30 (95% confidence interval = 1.21–1.36). Multivariate analysis showed that RA patients who were female, were young, had high monthly income, had high Charlson-Deyo comorbidity index scores, and lived in the highly urbanized area with high TCM density were more likely to use TCM services. The top three reasons for seeking TCM services were diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue, the respiratory system, and the digestive system.

Conclusions: The findings allow healthcare providers to identify the pattern of TCM use and characterize the factors that affect TCM utilization. Further research is required to fully address the efficiency and safety of TCM in treating RA patients.


© International League of Associations for Rheumatology (ILAR) 2019



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