Nearly 92 percent of people in China can access accurate knowledge about traditional Chinese medicine in daily life, according to a study released on Thursday.
But only 12.8 percent of them have at least a basic level of knowledge about TCM, said the study by the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
It said seniors, who usually show great interest in TCM therapies, actually know the least.
The study analyzed questionnaires from more than 87,000 people aged 15 to 69 across the country.
"The questionnaire consisted of 140 easy questions. For example, it gave a picture of some well-known acupuncture points that are good for health and fitness. It let people choose which one was the famous Yongquan acupoint," said Tan Wei, associate professor of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine.
Wang Guoqiang, director of the State Administration of TCM, was quoted by people.cn as saying that nearly 530 million visits were made to TCM hospitals for treatment in 2014, a 47 percent rise on 2010.
It is commonly believed that seniors focus a lot on TCM, but the study indicated that the group aged 60 to 69 got the lowest score on the test, while the highest was people aged 25 to 34.
"Those results were not accidental. The majority of older people didn't get enough education," Tan told China Daily. "In addition, they simply can't identify true medical knowledge or skills when browsing Chinese medicine information on the internet or smartphones.
"The younger generation's ability to understand is much stronger that the elderly, and they can absorb medical knowledge a lot easier," she added.
The research also suggested that the level of TCM knowledge rose with education and income.
"The study shows our citizens know more and more about traditional Chinese medicine, compared with a similar study in 2014," said Zha Dezhong, spokesman of the administration.
"Mass media play a significant role in spreading knowledge about Chinese medicine. Nearly 86 percent of people accessed TCM knowledge through media including newspapers and books - but especially TV, which accounted for the biggest proportion," he said.
The research also indicated a gap in TCM knowledge between urban and rural areas.
"Although the gap between urban and rural areas is getting smaller, we will still focus more on the underdeveloped areas and old people," Zha said. "We will fully utilize the research to enhance the spread of knowledge in China."