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Quality of life assessment in clinical research on Chinese medicine: Early experience and outlook

Authors Wong LYE, Leung PC

Published 15 September 2008 Volume 2008:2 Pages 241—246


Lai Yi Eliza Wong1, Ping Chung Leung2

1Department of Community and Family Medicine; 2Institute of Chinese Medicine, School of Public Health, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

Abstract: Patients’ own account of the clinical progress is particularly important in situations of pain control, mental disturbances, and chronic problems. Chinese medicine does not directly target against a symptom or pathology, but emphasizes the maintenance of harmony between the vital forces of an individual. To achieve the harmony, usually long-termed treatment is required by consideration of the changing seasons and subject’s constitution nature. With such unique requirements in Chinese medicine, the assessment of the quality of life becomes most important. There are obvious similarities between different systems of medical care. Hence the general domains of the quality of life should fit all patients, whether they are receiving conventional, modern medical care on alternative, Chinese medical care. Like different clinical research categories, specific areas (eg, cancer, women’s problems) would need special additions of assessment. Chinese medicine is based on a uniquely different philosophy and the approach is not deductive, but individualized treatment is an essential requirement. The symptom/syndrome descriptions and interpretation are different from modern western medicine. Health-related quality of life is not sufficient for clinical trials using Chinese medicine, especially when Chinese medicine experts serve as chief investigators. Early attempts to develop an additional system to cover the need for Chinese medicine have been scanty. A lot of effort needs to be given before a practical instrument taking care of both the general domains of common interests and special feelings on health, relevant to Chinese medicine, could be established and made available. Users of Chinese medicine have to rely on generally acceptable yard-sticks with the addition of self-reporting symptoms unique to Chinese medicine.

Keywords: alternative medicine, Chinese medicine, quality of life

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