Cancer beliefs and cancer screening behaviors among low income Chinese immigrants – Implications for culturally relevant interventions

Kenny Kwong


Objective: To effectively plan and provide culturally appropriate cancer education and screening services for low income Chinese immigrants, accurate disaggregated data are very much needed in understanding their cultural beliefs, attitudes, and practices toward cancer screening and education.  This study explored the views of medically underserved Chinese immigrants in the United States and assessed their beliefs and attitude toward the cause and prevention of breast, cervical, and prostate cancer, and their cancer screening behaviors.

Methods: Guided by both the Explanatory Model Interview Catalogue and the Health Belief Model, an exploratory research methodology was used.  Narrative data from in-depth interviews and focus groups were studied qualitatively.  The data analytical procedure was based on immersion in the narrative data, writing memos, sorting data into codes and categories, and comparing themes across interviews. Thirty-nine low-income Chinese men and women participated in 14 in-depth interviews and 4 focus groups.

Results: Findings provided evidence of strong influence of Chinese culture on beliefs and attitudes toward cancer, as well as perceptions regarding the cause, risk, susceptibility to, and seriousness of cancer.  Participants reported both positive and negative perception toward cancer.  Common misconceptions about the causes of cancer included: excessive sexual activities, having a certain blood type, cancer being “contagious”, and women ignoring their reproductive or natural functions by using birth control or not breastfeeding.

Conclusions: The study highlights the importance of cultural appropriateness and relevancy in the development and implementation of cancer promotion and cancer screening intervention for the Chinese immigrant population.


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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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