Evaluation of Impact on Health-Related Quality of Life and Cost Effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials.

Author: Zhang F, Kong LL, Zhang YY, Li SC.
1 College of Business Administration, Shenyang Pharmaceutical University , Shenyang, Liaoning, China .
Conference/Journal: J Altern Complement Med.
Date published: 2012 Aug 27
Other: Word Count: 383

Abstract Background: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), an important part of health care in China and with increased popularity worldwide, has received extensive attention from governments at all levels. With the current emphasis on clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness, TCM, as indeed do all other treatments, requires rigorous evidence to be considered in reimbursement decision-making. Nevertheless, despite the fact that TCM treatment has always been considered to possess the advantage of improving the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of patients, there is a lack of systematic study about available evidence to assess the impact of TCM treatments on HRQOL of patients. Objectives: The current study aimed to perform a review of available literature to evaluate whether sufficient evidence existed to allow an assessment of the impact on HRQOL and cost effectiveness of TCM treatments. This information would support a recommendation for wider use of TCM in the clinical setting as well as its consideration for reimbursement. Methods: A structured search was performed using data sources including MEDLINE,(®) Cumulative Index for Allied Health and Nursing (CINAHL), PubMed, Cochrane database, EBSCO, SciSearch, Embase, and Google Scholar from 2000 to 2010. The search was supplemented with manual search after relevant articles were retrieved. Results: After culling, a total 31 articles covering a range of TCM therapies applied to a variety of conditions were retrieved. The measurement tools used in these studies to assess impact in patient's HRQOL were mainly SF-36-based scales, but the results of HRQOL/patient preference studies were inconsistent and inconclusive. Of the 10 articles of cost-effectiveness evaluation of TCM treatments, the majority reported that TCM treatments resulted in better outcomes at a higher cost, but the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was below the usually recommended thresholds. The overall results showed acupuncture and t'ai chi to be the most studied TCM-related therapies. Conclusions: The current review showed that there is a relative lack of cost-effectiveness research in TCM. For those few empirical research available, the major emphasis is for acupuncture or t'ai chi showing the acceptance of these branches of TCM that are better understood by the scientific community. The current results also showed the need for studies with better designs and longer duration to ascertain the actual impact of TCM on patients' HRQOL as well as a need for a generic HRQOL instrument that is specific for TCM.
PMID: 22924383