Understanding the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) consultation: Why do patients adhere to treatment?

Amally Ding*, Jignesh P. Patel, Vivian Auyeung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: and purpose: Adherence is an issue that affects Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and conventional medicine practitioners, whereby approximately half of the patients do not take their medicines or remedies as prescribed. The consultation is an opportune area where practitioners can have an impact on patient adherence to treatment. As such, research was undertaken to explore this in depth within one CAM. The aim of the study was to understand the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) consultation process that occurs in relation to adherence and develop a consultation model health professionals can use. Materials and methods: A classical grounded theory approach was employed to semi-structured interviews of TCM practitioners and patients along with observations of their consultations. Sampling was theoretical and by snowball in the United Kingdom. NVivo 11 was used to assist with analysis of the transcribed interviews and observations. Results: Seven TCM practitioners and twenty-eight patients were recruited. TCM practitioners built a therapeutic relationship through the consultation by enabling patients to feel comfortable, valued as individuals which incorporated feeling understood and known, as well as supported in the management of their health. Fundamentally, patients needed to feel cared for and have trust in their TCM practitioner for the therapeutic relationship to be established. This motivated patients to continue with treatment. Conclusion: The TCM Consultation Model for Adherence was developed to conceptualise the consultation process that occurs in relation to adherence. It can be used to encourage patient persistence with treatment by TCM practitioners and potentially other health professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101139
JournalComplementary therapies in clinical practice
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Adherence
  • Chronic illness
  • Consultation
  • Grounded theory approach
  • Therapeutic relationship
  • Traditional Chinese medicine


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