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TCM was widely used by the Chinese population to treat problems and diseases of major human organ systems recognised by western medicine.
However, few informative data have been obtained to date by large-scale investigations of TCM use in the Chinese population.
This study was aimed at elucidating the demographics and patterns of TCM use in Taiwan.
Use of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), an important category of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), has increased substantially in Western countries during the past decade.
Use of TCM is also widespread in the Chinese population.
We employed the complete datasets of TCM outpatient reimbursement claims from 1996 to 2001, including the use of Chinese herbal remedies, acupuncture and traumatology manipulative therapy, to analyse use frequencies, the characteristics of TCM users, and the disease categories that were treated by TCM in Taiwan.
At the end of 2001, 6,142,829 (28.4%) among the 21,653,555 valid beneficiaries of the National Health Insurance in Taiwan had used TCM during the year.
However, 13,536,266 subjects (62.5%) had used TCM at least once during the whole 6-year period from 1996 to 2001, with a total of 156,224,266 visits (mean 11.5 visits per user).
The mean number of TCM users per annum was 5,733,602, with a mean increment of 1,671,476 (29.2%) of new users yearly.
TCM was popular among the Chinese population in Taiwan during the period studied.
More than 60% of all subjects had used TCM during the 6-year interval.