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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 458765, 12 pages
Research Article

Factors Affecting Definitions of and Approaches to Integrative Medicine: A Mixed Methods Study Examining China’s Integrative Medicine Development

Department of Medicine, Center for East-West Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA

Received 15 November 2014; Revised 15 January 2015; Accepted 17 January 2015

Academic Editor: Jenny M. Wilkinson

Copyright © 2015 Weijun Zhang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Aim. This study identifies existing definitions and approaches among China’s integrative medicine (IM) experts and examines relationships with key characteristics distinguishing individual experts. Methods. Snowball sampling was used to select 73 IM experts for semistructured interviews. In this mixed methods study, we first identified definitions and approaches through analyzing core statements. Four key factors, including age, education, practice type, and working environment, were then chosen to evaluate the associations with the definitions. Results. Four unique definitions were identified, including IM as a “new medicine” (D1), as a combination of western medicine (WM) and Chinese medicine (CM) (D2), as a modernization of CM (D3), and as a westernization of CM (D4). D4 was mostly supported by those working in WM organizations, while D3 was more prominent from individuals working in CM organizations (). More than 64% clinicians had D2 while only 1 (5.9%) nonclinician had D2. Only 1 clinician (1.8%) had D4 while almost 30% nonclinicians had D4 (). Among nonclinicians working in WM organizations, 83.3% of them had D4 (). Conclusion. Findings indicate that institutional structure and practice type are factors affecting IM approaches. These results carry implications for the ways in which western countries move forward with the definition and implementation of IM.