Traditional Chinese Medicine—Professionalization and Integration in Hong Kong

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Chinese medicine has a rich history that has only been made more complex by its integration with “Western” biomedicine. Legitimization of Chinese medicine in biomedicine-dominated health systems, such as that in Hong Kong, has posed significant issues. This anthology of articles explores relevant social issues related to various Chinese medicine treatments, including acupuncture and medicinal oils, as well as insight into practitioner licensing and public perception. Each chapter tackles a topic related to the complicated process of legitimizing knowledge and power within a specific social and historical context.

Written by professors and researchers with extensive knowledge of Chinese medicine, government regulation, and sociology, this collection provides an overview of the challenges and current social context of Chinese medicine that affect students and practitioners of Chinese medicine, health and para-health biomedical professionals, and patients alike.

Traditional Chinese Medicine: Professionalization and Integration in Hong Kong is the first book in the Mediated Health Series, which focuses on the effects of media, lifestyle, doctor-patient communication, and the economy on health and aims to help inform medical decisions and enhance the wellbeing of individuals.

"This well-researched book provides deep insight into the landscape of traditional Chinese Medicine (CM), focusing on ethnic and esoteric interpretations of “Chinese” and “Western” medicine. The discussion of legitimation and perception, acupuncture, and hybridization and integration of CM provides a unique contribution into the domain. CM academics, enthusiasts, and practitioners will certainly find this book insightful, compelling, and intriguing."

– Prof Ian Phau, School of Marketing, Curtin Business School

Pub. Date
May 1, 2019
232 pages
152 x 229 mm
Chinese medicine (CM) was not something I was familiar with. None of my family members had consulted a CM practitioner (CMP). Then, a few years ago, I suffered from shoulder pain, which was later diagnosed as being caused by a muscle tear, likely a result of my kayaking activities. My Western biomedicine doctor (WMD) referred me to a physiotherapist. The treatment lasted for a few weeks, but instead of seeing improvement, I suffered from additional pain and eventually made the choice to discontinue treatment.

Almost six months later, still in pain, I spoke with a colleague at the School of Chinese Medicine. He recommended acupuncture. Thus, in the hopes of decreasing the pain and being able to kayak again, I consulted an acupuncturist at the CM clinic on campus. He read the diagnosis and commented that the wounded area was deep inside my shoulder. He designed my treatment plan to include visits to the clinic twice a week. At that time, another colleague had just released her research findings related to acupuncture treatment of juvenile autism, leading many parents to seek out the remedy for their kids. This was apparent during my visits to the clinic, and energetic kids were often rushing around the facilities. One young boy was particularly nervous when receiving acupuncture. He kept screaming, “Help! I am going to die”. All of the children were fascinating to observe and brought an element of fun to the clinic.

The treatment went well for me and I recovered within three months. This is ultimately what triggered my interest in the perception of acupuncture. My colleagues Dr. Timothy Fung at the School of Communication and my former colleague Dr. Siu Yuen Man, Judy at the David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies had previously conducted a focus-group study to examine the perception of acupuncture among users and non-users. We followed it up with a survey to gather quantitative data. Later, our colleague Mr. Lennon Tsang joined the team, and we conducted another survey to measure the perception of CM among Hong Kong people.

My experience of seeking out WM first and then looking for alternative health solutions is not unique. The quest for knowledge concerning CM is shared. However, much of this knowledge, particular that involving the social implications and views, is limited or difficult to find. This is largely what initiated the collation of the chapters in this book, which focuses on CM from a social scientist’s point of view. My former colleague Dr. Dong Dong at the David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies graciously agreed to help with the book project. As we are not medical experts, it was essential to identify scholars who had published excellent works on this topic and invite them to contribute.

Dr. Vincent Chung and his associates have contributed two chapters about the regulation and education of CMPs in Hong Kong. Mr. Daan Kemps, an exchange student at the David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies, contributed a chapter on medicinal oil. A friend of mine who is a WMD suggested that I also investigate the integration of CM and WM in Hong Kong. This spurred us to interview two members of the School of Chinese Medicine at Hong Kong Baptist University for their expert opinions on policy and integration. Meanwhile, our academic backgrounds in communication and media studies inspired us to study the media coverage of CM, focusing on acupuncture. The mass media impacts the public’s awareness and perception of technologies; however, the extent of this impact (strong, limited, or minimal) is still under debate. To address this, we sampled news articles related to acupuncture from two major Hong Kong newspapers between 2001 and 2013 and conducted both content and discourse analyses to reveal the latent frames of news story-mediated legitimation.
Part I Legitimation and Perception
1 Development and Regulation of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners in Hong Kong
   Sian Griffiths and Vincent C. H. Chung
2 Australia and Hong Kong: Comparing Regional Influences on Chinese Medicine Education
   Caragh Brosnan, Vincent C. H. Chung, Anthony L. Zhang

Kara Chan (PhD, City University of Hong Kong) is a Professor at the School of Communication, Hong Kong Baptist University. She worked in the advertising business and as a statistician for the Hong Kong Government before she moved into academia. Her research areas are cross-cultural consumer studies and health communication. She has published seven books as well as over 140 journal articles and book chapters. She was a Fulbright scholar at Bradley University, Illinois as well as a Visiting Professor at Copenhagen Business School, Aarhus University and Klagenfurt University. Her journal articles have won five Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence. She received awards for Outstanding Performance in Scholarly Work at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2006 and 2014.

Dong Dong is a Research Assistant Professor at the Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong