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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 99, Issue 1, pp 22–25 | Cite as

East Meets West: Chinese-Canadians’ Perspectives on Health and Fitness

  • Chunlei Lu
  • John Sylvestre
  • Nancy Melnychuk
  • Jingxian Li
Article

Abstract

Background

Chinese-Canadians comprise one of Canada’s largest and fastest-growing ethnocultural groups. This exploratory qualitative study examined how Chinese-Canadians’ views of health and fitness, and their understanding of mainstream Western health care and fitness programs, influence their health behaviours, health beliefs, and use of health care services. This issue is explored against the backdrop of immigration and processes of integration to understand how this immigrant population reconciles conceptions of health acquired in their originating cultures with their experiences in Western society.

Methods

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 first-generation Chinese-Canadians to elicit their views and experiences with the concepts of health and fitness. Interview transcripts were analyzed using an inductive analytic approach involving constant comparison of emerging themes to the data.

Results

The analysis revealed that participants had integrated some Canadian health and fitness practices in their daily lives, particularly in their diet and use of health care services. Nonetheless, Chinese-Canadians retained their view of the superiority of Eastern conceptions of health and health practices. Both positive and negative changes in their health practices attributed to their immigration experiences.

Interpretation

The integration of some Western health and fitness practices does not appear to be based on changes in values and beliefs. The evolution and pattern of Chinese-Canadians’ practice of health and fitness is complex over the course of immigration and acculturation. The findings of this study suggest the importance of attending to actual practices as a way of understanding how immigration may affect health behaviour and health status.

Keywords

Acculturation minority groups attitude to health physical fitness 

Résumé

Contexte

Les Canadiens d’origine chinoise forment l’un des groupes ethnoculturels les plus importants et dont la croissance est la plus rapide au Canada. Notre étude qualitative préliminaire porte sur l’influence des perceptions de la santé et de la forme physique chez les Sino-Canadiens, ainsi que de leurs connaissances des programmes de soins de santé et de conditionnement physique courants dans le monde occidental, sur leurs habitudes de santé, leurs croyances en la matière et leur utilisation des services de santé. La question est étudiée dans le contexte de l’immigration et des processus d’intégration, afin de comprendre comment cette population immigrante concilie les conceptions de la santé acquises dans sa culture d’origine à ses expériences dans la société occidentale.

Méthode

Des entretiens semi-structurés ont été menés auprès de 10 néo-Canadiens d’origine chinoise pour recueillir leurs points de vue et leurs expériences des notions de santé et de forme physique. Les transcriptions des entretiens ont fait l’objet d’analyses inductives où les thèmes émergents sont constamment comparés aux données.

Résultats

Les participants avaient intégré certains usages canadiens en matière de santé et de forme physique dans leur vie quotidienne, particulièrement leur régime alimentaire et leur utilisation des services de santé. Néanmoins, les néo-Canadiens d’origine chinoise demeuraient convaincus de la supériorité des conceptions orientales de la santé et des habitudes de santé. Les participants attribuaient les changements dans leurs habitudes de santé, tant positifs que négatifs, à leur expérience d’immigration.

Interprétation

L’intégration de certains usages occidentaux en matière de santé et de forme physique ne semble pas fondée sur des changements dans les valeurs ou les convictions. L’évolution de la santé et de la forme physique des Canadiens d’origine chinoise et leurs habitudes à cet égard au fil de leur expérience d’immigration et d’acculturation sont complexes. Les constats de l’étude confirment l’importance de s’intéresser aux usages réels pour mieux comprendre les effets possibles de l’immigration sur les habitudes et l’état de santé.

Motsclés

acculturation groupes minoritaires attitudes à l’égard de la santé forme physique 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chunlei Lu
    • 1
  • John Sylvestre
    • 2
  • Nancy Melnychuk
    • 3
  • Jingxian Li
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Pre-service Education, Faculty of EducationBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Department of Secondary EducationUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  4. 4.School of Human KineticsUniversity of OttawaCanada

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