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  1. Cai, Qian MM
  2. Wu, Linye MM
  3. Zhou, Yunxian PhD


Despite the increasing number of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients using traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), relatively few studies have examined their experiences with TCM in the Chinese healthcare context. The aim of this study was to explore these experiences from the perspective of IBD patients. Adopting a qualitative descriptive method, IBD patients from several comprehensive hospitals in Hangzhou, Zhejiang were recruited through purposive sampling. Data were collected using semistructured interviews and analyzed by a conventional content analysis method. The results are presented thematically. Fourteen IBD patients participated in the study. They often used TCM, such as Chinese herbal medicine, retention enemas of Chinese medicine, and acupuncture, as a complementary therapy instead of as an alternative to conventional therapies. Three themes emerged from the analysis: triggers for initiating TCM, the experienced efficacies of TCM, and disturbances caused by TCM use. The IBD patients initiate TCM treatment due to the unsatisfactory effects of conventional therapies and TCM culture. However, the efficacies of TCM are subjective and slow acting and vary across individuals. There are communication gaps between physicians and patients concerning TCM. Thus, healthcare professionals are encouraged to gain more knowledge on these therapies and employ a participatory decision-making style based on this understanding.