Lam TP, Mak KY, Goldberg D, Lam KF, Sun KS. Western mental health training for Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners.
Objective: To investigate the impact of a Western mental health training course for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners.
Method: A combined qualitative and quantitative approach was applied to examine the changes in the TCM practitioners’ clinical practice characteristics and attitudes. Focus groups and structured questionnaire surveys were conducted to compare their responses before and after the Course.
Results: After a 10-week training course conducted by psychiatrists and family physicians, there were significant changes in confidence of the TCM practitioners for diagnosis (33% being confident before the Course vs. 76% after the Course) and management (24% vs. 55%) of common mental health problems. The causal effects of better classifications to recognition of mental health problems were explained by the qualitative responses. Proportion of TCM practitioners being confident of referring mental health patients to other healthcare professionals doubled from 25% to 50% after the Course. Nonetheless, there was no significant change in percentage of these patients being recommended to Western doctors owing to a lack of formal referral channel.
Conclusions: Western mental health training for TCM practitioners has positive impact on their clinical practice. However, the practical barriers in making referrals highlight the need of closer collaboration between conventional and traditional medicine.