In China, medicine is ecumenical, consisting of western bio-medicine and a distillation of the millennia-old indigenous medicine (Kao & McRae, 1986). Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is not comprised of a single body of knowledge but is the outcome of the World Health Organization's encouragement of the use of traditional medicine systems (Hammer, 1990) in the 1960's. Patriotic campaigns to inspire use of traditional methods contributed to this (Haifeng & Chenru 1986). The artificial unified front of TCM is a political consideration (Hammer, 1990). Although western medicine is firmly established now and functioning alongside with its indigenous counterpart, in some rural areas, the traditional approach prevails (Jahnke, 1995).
Western medicine is more expensive and out of reach (Kao & McRae, 1986) in many traditional cultures but not deemed equipped to deal with personal aspects of afflictions (Ballay, 1986) or problems such as anxiety (Ballay, 1986). For psychiatric problems traditional practicians are preferred almost exclusively (Ballay, 1986).
Limited western medical resources in some Asian regions dictates that traditional approaches are used for psychiatric patients. The care of 6.5 million schizophrenics in a population of one billion, cannot be adequately addressed by the 500 trained psychiatrists and a few dozen clinical psychologists using the 80,000 hospital beds reserved for psychiatric illness. Compared with 2.5 million schizophrenic patients in the United States cared for by 40,000 psychiatrists and 60,000 psychologists in 250,000 beds, third world societies must accomplish much more, with far fewer resources (Kleinman, 1991).
Popular medical care by lay people comprises a significant and in some cases, the major part of treatment for illness (Angle & Thoits, 1987). Initial identification and decisions concerning appropriate action occur at this level (Angle & Thoits, 1987).
This must be considered when comparing culturally distinct groups' scores on specific illness inventories (Angle & Thoits, 1987).
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