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01.12.2012 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

BMC Health Services Research 1/2012

The association between socioeconomic status and traditional chinese medicine use among children in Taiwan

BMC Health Services Research > Ausgabe 1/2012
Chun-Chuan Shih, Chien-Chang Liao, Yi-Chang Su, Tsu F Yeh, Jaung-Geng Lin
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1472-6963-12-27) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Chun-Chuan Shih, Chien-Chang Liao contributed equally to this work.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

CCS, CCL, TFY, YCS and JGL were involved in the study concept, design, research questions, data interpretation and data acquisition. CCS CCL JGL contributed to data analysis and drafted the manuscript. All authors revised the article for intellectual content and approved the final version.



Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) utilization is common in Asian countries. Limited studies are available on the socioeconomic status (SES) associated with TCM use among the pediatric population. We report on the association between SES and TCM use among children and adolescents in Taiwan.


A National Health Interview Survey was conducted in Taiwan in 2001 that included 5,971 children and adolescents. We assessed the children's SES using the head of household's education, occupation and income. This information was used to calculate pediatric SES scores, which in turn were divided into quartiles. Children and adolescents who visited TCM in the past month were defined as TCM users.


Compared to children in the second SES quartile, children in the fourth SES quartile had a higher average number of TCM visits (0.12 vs. 0.06 visits, p = 0.027) and higher TCM use prevalence (5.0% vs. 3.6%, p = 0.024) within the past month. The adjusted odds ratio (OR) for TCM use was higher for children in the fourth SES quartile than for those in the first SES quartile (OR 1.49; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02-2.17). The corresponding OR was 2.17 for girls (95% CI 1.24-3.78). The highest-SES girls (aged 10-18 years) were most likely to visit TCM practices (OR 2.47; 95% CI 1.25-4.90).


Children and adolescents with high SES were more likely to use TCM and especially girls aged 10-18 years. Our findings point to the high use of complementary and alternative medicine among children and adolescents.
Authors’ original file for figure 1
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