Living in Two Cultures: Chinese Canadians’ Perspectives on Health
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Chinese people have distinctive perspectives on health and illness that are largely unrecognized in Western society. The purpose of this descriptive study was to develop a profile of Chinese immigrants’ beliefs and practices related to diet, mental and social health, and sexual health. A quantitative survey with descriptive and correlational analyses was employed to examine 100 first-generation Chinese immigrants living in four urban centres across Canada (Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax, and St. Catharines). Although most Chinese immigrants preferred a Chinese diet, where they resided affected the groceries they bought and the meals they ate. Almost all participants reported their mental health was important to them and most felt comfortable discussing mental health issues with others. However, only a third would see a psychiatrist if they believed they had a mental health problem. Most participants believed social relationships were important for their health. Only a small number of participants, however, preferred making friends with mainstream Caucasian Canadians. More men than women believed sexuality contributed to health and were comfortable talking about sexual health. Chinese immigrants should be encouraged to be more engaged in the larger community in order to fully integrate themselves into Canadian society while still being encouraged to retain their healthy practices. These findings may help educators and practitioners enhance their understandings of Chinese immigrants’ perspectives on health and develop culturally competent education and services in health care and health promotion.
KeywordsChinese Canada Immigrants Culture Health
The research reported in this article was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and Sport Canada Joint Initiative Grant. Award File #: 862-2006-0009.
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