The Journey of Fighting Cancer: Chinese Canadians' Experiences

Saturday, 26 July 2014: 8:30 AM

Tsorng-Yeh Lee, PhD
F. Beryl Pilkington, PhD
School of Nursing, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada

Purpose : To understand the experience, informational and psychosocial needs of Chinese immigrants in Canada who are survivors of cancer through focus groups and individual interviews.

Background: Cancer is the leading cause of death for both men and women in Canada. Most Chinese Canadians are foreign-born, with limited social networks. The language obstacle, cultural adaptations and the Eastern view of health beliefs and practices may act as barriers to both access to and utilization of, services. Although the number of Chinese Canadians is growing in Canada, there are very few appropriate culture-sensitive resources available for them to obtain in-depth information after being diagnosed with cancer. This lack of information may jeopardize their adjustment by increasing their cancer-related anxiety and degrading their quality of life.

Design: A qualitative approach and in-depth interviews were used.

Methods: Ten Mandarin-speaking Chinese women and men who had a diagnosis of cancer were recruited from the Chinese community in Toronto, Canada. Two focus group interviews and 10 individual interviews were conducted. The interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed using content analysis.

Results : Six themes were emerged from the interview data: a) the emotional upside down in receiving the diagnosis of cancer, b) the relatively short waiting time in getting treatment, c) the non-empathetic attitude of healthcare providers, d) the language barrier in searching for cancer information, e) the dramatic change in lifestyle, and f) the tremendous support from spouse, family and friends.

Conclusion: The result of the study can facilitate the healthcare providers’ understanding of the experience, informational and psychosocial needs of Chinese Canadian cancer survivors. Appropriate interventions and strategies in caring for cancer patients should be developed in hospitals and communities to help them to face physical and psychosocial challenges in the journey of fighting cancer.