The Knowledge, Attitude, and Practice of Herbal Medicines among Doctors of Western Medicine in Hong Kong
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Hong Kong is a place where people use traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and western medicine (WM) in everyday life. While TCM is their native medicine, the use of WM has become common due to the westernization by British colonization. Today, both TCM and WM are easily accessible in Hong Kong. As a consequence, people tend to use TCM while they are also on WM prescriptions. This challenges WM doctors, since patients using both medicines at the same time may experience side effects. To find out how WM doctors integrate both medicines in practice, I was affiliated with Polytechnic University of Hong Kong and researched physicians to measure their knowledge of, attitudes about and practice using herbal medicines, which are a part of TCM. I surveyed and interviewed 34 doctors. My research revealed that WM doctors are prohibited by law from practicing TCM unless they are licensed in TCM; consequently, they are not knowledgeable about herbal medicines. They have never recommended herbal medicines to patients. Most of them ask patients if they also take herbal medicines and tell patients to take only either TCM or WM since they are wary of side effects from mixing modalities. They show interest in learning more about it because TCM will help them diagnose patients better, but only if they have time. This shows that WM doctors in Hong Kong need more training on TCM in order to be able to combine both medicines.