Primary care manages >90% of illnesses requiring medical services in Hong Kong, in which 9,513 registered Chinese medicine practitioners (CMPs) provide 8.2% of the consultations. This is the first study aimed to determine the morbidity pattern in different Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) primary care settings in Chinese population. 55,312 patients' encounters were classified by the International Classification of Primary Care-2 (ICPC-2) from 260 of CMPs. Mean patient age was 50.5 years, with more females than males (67.0% vs 33.0%). Most patients consulted CMPs for chronic (64% vs 33.7%) rather than acute conditions. Among the 30% of patients, hypertension (49.5%) or diabetes (18.5%) were the most common co-morbidity. The most common problems presenting to CMP were respiratory (24.9%), musculoskeletal complaints (22.7%), cough (11.7%), and lower back pain (6.6%). To our knowledge, this was the first study permitting direct comparison with that presenting to Western medicine (WM) primary care by ICPC-2 systems. The results confirmed the role of CMP in primary care for musculoskeletal or chronic illnesses that they may have also received conventional WM treatment. We recommend greater effort and more resources should be invested to promote interdisciplinary communication to ensure safety and synergy of TCM and WM in primary care.
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