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Integr Cancer Ther. 2011 Dec;10(4):317-27. doi: 10.1177/1534735410392576. Epub 2011 Mar 7.

Trends in Chinese medicine use among prostate cancer patients under national health insurance in Taiwan: 1996-2008.

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  • 1Institute of Traditional Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC.



Taiwan National Health Insurance (NHI) provides Western medicine and Chinese medicine (CM). This study aims to explore the trends of CM use among prostate cancer patients under NHI.


Claims of CM outpatient services from 1996 to 2008 were obtained from NHI Research Database. CM visits of prostate cancer patients were identified. Claims with diagnosis code of prostate cancer were defined as cancer-specific visits.


Among 78 323 prostate cancer patients identified during 1996-2008, there were 30 383 (38.8%) CM users and 327 063 CM outpatient visits. The prevalence of CM use in each cross-sectional year increased slightly from 24.9% to 25.6%. Most CM visits (92.7%) were non-cancer-specific. There were greater increases in the proportion of cancer-specific CM visits (from 2.3% to 10.6%) and high-utility CM users (from 3.1% to 19.7%). Most CM services were provided by private clinics (68.1% to 79.2%). The most frequently used CM therapies were Chinese herbal medicine (72.8% to 78.8%), followed by acupuncture/traumatology manipulative therapies (28.1% to 36.8%). Total CM cost increased from $122 247 to $825 454. The average cost per CM visit increased from $14.0 to $19.6. The annual cost per CM user increased from $88.0 to $134.4. Copayment accounted for 6.6% to 11.7%.


There was a trend of increased CM use among prostate cancer patients under NHI. Although prostate cancer patients used CM mostly for noncancer diseases, CM visits for prostate cancer increased remarkably. The utilization patterns of CM visits for cancer and for noncancer diseases were distinctly different.

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