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TCIM Research

Jianping Liu (2023)

Published on 10/2/2023
Importance of Research in Integrative Medicine: Opportunities and Challenge

Jianping Liu MD PhD | September 21, 2023

Centre for Evidence-Based Chinese Medicine, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine
NAFKAM, the Artic University of Norway


By incorporating traditional complementary medicine (T/CM) into conventional
medicine there is an opportunity to study the effect of integrative approaches in health
care. Concept and model for the integration differ by country and region. This
presentation will address these issues and challenges to integration. WHO has
encouraged the integration of T/CM into mainstream medicine in its 10-year strategy
for traditional medicine. Over 80% of the world populations use some kind of
traditional, complementary medicine and therapies, hence the importance of further
research. The T/CM could play a role in long-term conditions where needs are unmet.
The future challenge is how to build up the evidence base on the benefits of T/CM,
and identify areas that conventional medicine are unable to meet, but T/CM could.
Integration demonstrates optimal healthcare in practice, but it is important to build up
research capacity and knowledge and skill in T/CM for both researchers and
practitioners. Finally, developing research methodology that suits the unique feature
of the complex interventions in T/CM is critical.

China has over 60 years’ experience in education, practice and policy in integrative
medicine of using both traditional Chinese medicine and conventional medicine. In
higher education, there are two types of universities/colleges, western medicine and
traditional Chinese medicine. They cross-over in their curricula despite their different
knowledge systems. In Chinese health care systems, there are two parallel health care
services, western medicine and integrative medicine, which are across different levels
of healthcare from tertiary to primary care. Doctors, clinicians, and practitioners have
to pass the exams in order to get their respective licenses. Education in integrative
medicine has been developed at bachelor, master, and PhD degree levels, as well as
for continuous medical education. The Chinese Association of Integrative Medicine
was established in 1981, and there are 66 specialty committees and more than 10
associated integrative medicine journals. TCM service is provided at tertiary,
secondary, and primary health care levels, including integrative medicine provision.
These provide about 30% of country-wide health services. In South Korea, integrative
medicine began five years ago with government, trying to set up integrative medicine
models. Attempts have been made in providing cancer care, stroke, and obesity
services by integrating western medicine and Korean medicine in healthcare settings.
Now the time is right to research the effectiveness of this healthcare provision and
validate the benefit to patients.

2023 Marja Verhoef Methodology Lectureship (PDF)