How do acupuncture practitioners use pattern identification – An international web-based survey?

Nicola Robinson*, Mark Bovey, Ju Ah Lee, Christopher Zaslawski, Phoebus Tian, Tae Hun Kim, Terje Alraek, Zhaoxiang Bian, Myeong Soo Lee, Stephen Birch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Training and practice of Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM) varies globally although similar diagnostic methods are used based on patients presenting signs and symptoms. These methods assist in determining disease patterns and treatment principles. The use of diagnostic principles and pattern identification (PI) was explored in this survey of TEAM practice across different countries. Methods: A web-based survey was disseminated to acupuncture professional membership organisations in UK, Australia, Italy, Korea and China using a Survey Monkey link between December 2015 and September 2017. Results: The 618 fully completed responses were available for comparison (UK 66, Australia 106, China 87, Italy 226, Korea 133). Demographic characteristics varied; UK practitioners were more likely to be female (71%) compared to the other countries (51-59%), Koreans tended to be under 40yrs (80%), compared to elsewhere (14-27%). Korean, UK and Australian respondents had fewer practitioners with biomedical training, 95% of the Italians had a biomedical qualification. TEAM diagnostic methods were more likely practised in the UK and Australian samples ( > 90%) but were lowest for the Italian sample (78%). TCM differential diagnosis was the predominant type of PI. PI was rated essential by 85% of Chinese practitioners, versus 32% Koreans, 45% Italians, 67% UK and 68% Australian respondents. Conclusion: This first international survey about acupuncturists use of PI demonstrated wide variation. The sample was limited to certain countries and relied on dissemination by specific professional bodies and participants completing an electronic questionnaire which may have affected responses but provides a platform for future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100997
JournalEuropean Journal of Integrative Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

User-Defined Keywords

  • Acupuncture
  • Clinical practice
  • Education
  • International variation
  • Pattern/syndrome identification
  • Traditional East Asian medicine


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