An investigation into the relationship between theory and practice in the treatment of menopausal hot flushes with Chinese Medicine - a pilot study using an internet-based questionnaire

By Nigel Ching

Abstract

Background:

The motivation for this study was the author's own subjective experience in the clinic, finding that patients with menopausal hot flushes (MHF) did not always match the textbook presentations. The author experienced that treatment strategies suggested in Chinese medicine textbooks were at times ineffective, whereas utilising strategies not in compliance with the textbook approach worked well. The doubts raised by this discrepancy between experience and theory were compounded by the debate in Chinese medicine journals about how traditional the form of Chinese medicine known as “Traditional Chinese Medicine” is.

Aims and objectives:

The aim of this pilot study is to develop a questionnaire to survey the clinical experience of
practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine in the UK when treating MHF. The questionnaire will attempt to reveal whether practitioner's treatment of MHF matches the approach prescribed in Chinese medicine gynaecological textbooks, and if not what factors have motivated this change?

Methods:

The study combined a review of Chinese medicine gynaecological textbooks with an internet-based practitioner questionnaire. The responses to the questionnaire were quantitatively and qualitatively analysed and then compared and contrasted to the relevant information in the textbooks.

Findings:

The study found signs that there may be discrepancies between practitioners' approach to the diagnosis and treatment and the patterns presented in many of the textbooks. There was not a full consensus in the textbooks with regards to theoretical underpinnings and treatment approach. The majority of practitioners stated that they had changed their approach to the treatment of MHF during their career.

Conclusions:

The results of this study suggest that there may be discrepancy between current theory and
practice, and further work is warranted in this area to determine whether there is a need to revise the textbook approach to the treatment of menopausal hot flushes. A validated questionnaire would be a useful tool for this task.