Doctor-shopping has caused an increase in medical expense, potential to receive duplicate medications, and suffer adverse drug reactions. We carried out a population-based retrospective study aimed at examining the user patterns of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) ambulatory care in Taiwan. We retrieved complete TCM ambulatory visit datasets for the year 2007 from the National Health Insurance database in Taiwan. We defined the patients whose distribution of TCM physician numbers scored more than 97.5 percent (more than, or equal to, five TCM physicians) within one year as TCM doctor-shoppers. In total, 6,596,814 subjects (28.9%) paid TCM visits during that year. All 177,728 subjects (2.69%) who visited more than five (including) TCM physicians were classified as TCM shoppers. The most prevalent diagnostic grouping was upper respiratory infections (44.7%) and sprains and strains (44.0%). Men had a lower odds ratio (OR
) among TCM shoppers than women (OR
= 0.94, 95% confidence interval
) = 0.93–0.96). Younger people were less likely to be TCM shoppers than other people were. The ORs
of TCM shoppers were higher among veterans and low-income patients (OR
= 1.29 (1.23–1.35), and 1.33 (1.27–1.41)). In conclusion, health education on the potential of drug interactions and iatrogenic health risks incurred from doctor-shopping should be addressed to those high-risk patients.
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