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BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Sep 16;17(1):463. doi: 10.1186/s12906-017-1969-8.

Changes in trust and the use of Korean medicine in South Korea: a comparison of surveys in 2011 and 2014.

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Guideline Center for Korean Medicine, National Institute of Korean Medicine, Namsan Square 173, Toegye-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, 04554, South Korea.
School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan, 50612, South Korea.
R&D Strategy and Planning Team, Korea Institute of Radiological and Medical Sciences, 75 Nowon-Ro, Nowon-Gu, Seoul, 01812, South Korea.
Policy Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, 1672 Yuseongdae-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, 34054, South Korea.
Policy Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, 1672 Yuseongdae-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, 34054, South Korea.



Korean medicine (KM) has been widely used in Korea. This study aimed to assess the general perceptions of KM, to investigate the patterns of its usage in 2014, and to compare the results with those of an earlier survey from 2011.


A cross-sectional study was conducted with 1000 Korean people. The questionnaire included items regarding trust in KM, reasons for distrust of KM, and visit frequency to KM clinics. This study used methods consistent with those of a 2011 survey to examine changes in attitudes over 3 years.


Despite high rates of trust in KM, the visit frequency decreased from 69.3% in 2011 to 63.2% in 2014. Usage among young adults (in their 20s and 30s) was significantly reduced compared to all other age groups. The KM modality most commonly used by participants was acupuncture, whereas the use of moxibustion and cupping therapies has decreased since 2011. Men and women were most likely to distrust KM due to a "lack of scientific evidence" (59.3%) and "suspicion of KM safety" (47.4%), respectively.


The findings suggested that KM use and trust in KM were slightly lower in 2014 than in 2011. The decreases were most notable among individuals in their 30s and in the use of moxibustion in KM therapy. This study aimed to produce practical insights by reviewing patterns of KM use and perceptions over time. Additional surveys must be considered to produce a more in-depth analysis.


Korean medicine; Perception; Periodic survey; Prevalence; South Korea

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