Disease-specific differences in the use of traditional Korean medicine in Korea

In Hwan Oh, Seok Jun Yoon, Minjung Park, So Hee An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Though traditional Korean medicine plays an important role in the Korean parallel health care system, there is limited information about the preference and usage of traditional Korean medicine compared to Western medicine because they have different disease classification systems. The aim of this study is to determine the relative preference for traditional Korean medicine using data acquired nationwide. Methods: Data from the 2008 Korea Health Panel were analyzed to determine the preference of medical services by disease. The use of traditional Korean medicine use is defined by the type of medical institution they used. Disease types, number of visits and out of pocket expenditures were analyzed. Results: Traditional Korean medicine was used in only a small number of cases that were emergencies or hospitalization. However, in terms of outpatient services, traditional Korean medicine was used in 7.8% of all cases and represented 9.9% of total medical costs. Among disease groups, traditional Korean medicine use was higher in patients with nervous system and musculoskeletal system diseases. And patients with musculoskeletal and nervous system diseases such as arthrosis were the most likely to use traditional Korean medicine particularly in an outpatient setting. Conclusions: Korean characteristics of service use resemble the complementary and alternative medicine use in other countries in terms of disease group, and the complementary and alternative medicine should be considered to estimate the burden of disease in countries with parallel health care systems, such as Korea. This is the first study determined the actual preference of traditional Korean medicine for specific chronic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number141
JournalBMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 May 3
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (2012–0001612).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Oh et al.


  • CAM
  • Cost
  • Preferences
  • Traditional Korean medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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