To characterize the utilization of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) among patients with hepatitis C (HC).
This study examined datasets from the National Health Insurance Research Database in Taiwan. One cohort, including one million patients randomly sampled from the beneficiaries of the National Health Insurance Programme from January 1 to December 31 in 2010, was chosen for this analysis. People who had at least three outpatient or inpatient records and had been diagnosed with hepatitis C virus infection from 2000 to 2010 were defined as patients with HC. Patients with HC who had at least one TCM outpatient clinical record from 2000 to 2010 were defined as TCM users (N = 5,691), whereas patients with no TCM outpatient records were defined as non-TCM users (N = 2,876). The demographic data, treatment modalities and disease distributions of TCM users were analysed.
Overall, 66.4 % of the patients with HC had used TCM from 2000 to 2010. Of the TCM users, 54.1 % were female. The utilization rate of TCM increased with age and peaked in the age group of those 40 - 64 years old. Herbal remedies (52.4 %) were the most commonly used agents, followed by combination therapy (46.4 %) and acupuncture alone (1.2 %). Patients who had more extrahepatic diseases and were taking more antiviral agents tended to visit TCM clinics. Jia-Wei-Xiao-Yao-San and Dan-Shen (Salvia miltiorrhiza) were the most commonly used formula and single herb, with 88,124 person-days and 59,252 person-days, respectively.
Our nationwide population-based study revealed a high prevalence and specific usage patterns of TCM in patients with HC in Taiwan.