Reporting Traditional Chinese Medicine morbidity - A University of Technology, Sydney, project with an emphasis on developing standards for testing and reporting data

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Journal Article
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2006, 12 (6), pp. 529 - 534
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Objectives: Morbidity in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) research is an emerging field. Few studies have been published, and there is a lack of international standards for data collection and reporting. Based on the experience of developing a computerized system for patient data collection at the University of Technology, Sydney, (UTS) Acupuncture Clinic (Sydney, Australia), and reporting results from that database, a start can be made toward developing guidelines for reporting similar results from TCM clinical audits. Methods: This study reports on data relating to 5735 patients who had undergone 29,697 treatments. Patient information is collected by a computerized database recording International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC) reason for encounter (RFE) and symptom for encounter (SFE) data and TCM tongue, pulse, diagnostic, and treatment data. Data coding is automated, and systems for reliability testing and error reporting were developed. Results: UTS data has a 2.7% error rate and is within international standards of 5% error. Sixty-one-point-three percent (61.3%) of patients were female and of these, 59.45 were 25-44 years of age. Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common presentation (41.4%) of all RFE, followed by general disorders (13.1%) and digestive disorders (8.1%). Conclusions: International standards must be set for TCM morbidity data collection methods and reporting. It is hoped that the methods described and reported in this paper are an initial step in the setting of such standards and that they will be adopted by other researchers. In particular, methods for testing and reporting data reliability must be adopted if TCM morbidity studies are to maintain any credibility. © Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
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