, Volume 15, Issue 8, pp 985-992
Date: 17 Jul 2007

The impact of acculturation on the use of traditional Chinese medicine in newly diagnosed Chinese cancer patients

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Abstract

Goals of work

This study assessed the impact of acculturation on the prevalence of traditional Chinese medicine and other complementary and alternative medicine (TCM/CAM) use in newly diagnosed Chinese cancer patients. The individual determinants of TCM/CAM use among patients were also investigated.

Materials and methods

A consecutive sample of Chinese cancer patients treated at the British Columbia Cancer Agency was surveyed at admission using a 15-item questionnaire. Items included TCM/CAM use, sociodemographics, as well as medical and cultural factors. Data were analyzed using bivariate methods including Pearson’s X 2 test and Student’s t test. As well, multiple logistic regression was used to obtain the final causal model.

Main results

Of the 230 respondents, 57% completed the survey in Chinese and 94% were immigrants. The average age was 59. Participants had a mean disease duration of approximately 2 months and 79% had already received at least one conventional treatment. Overall, TCM/CAM was used by 47% of respondents. Herbal remedies, vitamins/minerals, and prayer were the most commonly used therapies. Multivariable analysis showed that prior TCM/CAM use (p < 0.001), having received conventional treatment(s) (p = 0.029), and being less acculturated (p = 0.028) were associated with TCM/CAM use.

Conclusions

Prevalence and type of use were found to vary as a function of the degree of acculturation. Health care practitioners would be well advised to discuss TCM/CAM use with their patients, especially those who are less acculturated to Western society, since they are the most likely users of TCM/CAM.