Opinions on Kampo and reasons for using it - results from a cross-sectional survey in three Japanese clinics

Lydia Hottenbacher, Thorolf E.R. Weißhuhn, Kenji Watanabe, Takashi Seki, Julia Ostermann, Claudia M. Witt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Traditional Japanese Medicine (Kampo) is often used in Japan, but very little data on its users are available. We investigated who uses Kampo, the reasons and opinions for its use.Methods: Questionnaire survey in three Japanese outpatient clinics offering Kampo in different settings: Kampo only, Kampo and traditional Chinese medicine, Kampo and Western medicine. Before seeing the doctor, patients were asked about socio-demographic data, medical history, experience with Kampo, general health-related opinions and behaviours, opinions about Western medicine and Kampo, and reasons for Kampo utilization. Descriptive statistics and predictors for Kampo use were calculated.Results: A total of 354 questionnaires were completed. Participants were 50.97 ± 15.60 (mean ± SD) years of age, 68% were female. Of all patients, 73% (n = 202) were using Kampo currently and 84% (297) had taken Kampo before. Questions on general health-related opinions and behaviour revealed a strong environmental awareness. The most frequent indications for earlier Kampo use were: common cold (36%), gastrointestinal complaints (30%), oversensitivity to cold (" Hi'e-sho" ; 29%), stress/anxiety (21%), and shoulder stiffness (20%). Kampo users suffered more often from chronic illnesses (OR 2.88 [1.48-5.58]). Beliefs in underlying philosophy (Wu Xing (adjusted OR 3.08, [1.11-8.55]), Ying and Yang (OR 2.57 [1.15-5.73], a holistic way of seeing the patient (OR 2.17 [1.53-3.08]), and in Kampo efficacy (OR 2.62 [1.66-4.13]) were positively associated with Kampo use. So was, interestingly, conviction of the efficacy of Western medicine (OR 1.87 [1.28-2.74]). Half of the patients had a general preference for a combination of Kampo and Western treatment.Conclusions: Most patients visiting a clinic that also provided Kampo had previous experience with Kampo. Usage was associated with beliefs in philosophical Kampo concepts and its efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108
JournalBMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2013 May 16
Externally publishedYes


  • Kampo
  • Patient opinions
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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