Social Work at the Chinese Medicine System in Hong Kong: Opportunities and Challenges

Kai Fong Chan*, Petrus Y N Ng, Zhaoxiang Bian, Yan Shi, Siu Ping Lee, Ka Ying Ng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Dealing with health and disease is an area of concern for social workers. The establishment of medical social service in a health setting has more than 100 years of history in the USA and more than 60 years in Hong Kong. Despite the increasing popularity of Chinese Medicine (CM) used by the Hong Kong people, there has been no medical social service presence in the CM system. A pilot project demonstrated a successful interdisciplinary collaboration model between social work and CM irrespective of different social work methods, that is, individual work, groupwork, and community-based services. In this article, we will relate the opportunities and difficulties that we encountered in setting up the first medical social service in the CM system. Drawing on our experience, we found that both professions benefited from the interdisciplinary collaboration. CM was able to expand its scope of service to increase the service quality and promote primary health care in the community with the support of social work. Conversely, social workers found that CM is a good resource for providing innovative services to meet the various needs of the people in the community. There was also a ripple effect of incorporating CM elements into social service. The interface between the disciplines of social work and CM can widen the scope of their contributions on health. Implications for CM social service in social work will also be examined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-55
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Work in Health Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chinese medicine
  • Hong Kong
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Medical social service
  • Social work


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