Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 15, Issue 8, pp 985–992

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


    • Department of Community Health and EpidemiologyUniversity of Saskatchewan
    • Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsUniversity of Western Ontario
  • Anne Leis
    • Department of Community Health and EpidemiologyUniversity of Saskatchewan
  • Richard Doll
    • Sociobehavioural Research CentreBritish Columbia Cancer Agency
  • Lyren Chiu
    • School of NursingUniversity of British Columbia
  • Michael Chung
    • AMBER TCM Healing Centre
  • Maria-Cristina Barroetavena
    • Department of Health Care and EpidemiologyUniversity of British Columbia
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00520-007-0285-0

Cite this article as:
Ferro, M.A., Leis, A., Doll, R. et al. Support Care Cancer (2007) 15: 985. doi:10.1007/s00520-007-0285-0


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 X2 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.


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.


AcculturationCancerChineseComplementary and alternative medicineTraditional Chinese medicine

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007