Perceptions about complementary and alternative medicine use among Chinese immigrant parents of children with cancer Journal Articles uri icon

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  • PURPOSE: Research indicates complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among children with cancer is common and widespread. CAM use, particularly traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is prevalent in the country of origin of Chinese immigrant families, yet little is known about its use after immigrating to Canada. This paper describes 25 Chinese immigrant parents' perception about the use of CAM in their child with cancer in Canada. METHODS: This qualitative grounded theory study is part of a larger study of the caregiving experiences of first generation Chinese and South Asian parents of children with cancer. Chinese parents of children at least 6 months post-diagnosis were recruited from four Canadian pediatric oncology centers. Interviews were conducted in English, Cantonese, or Mandarin and transcribed into English. Analysis involved coding and the use of the constant comparison method to identify important themes. RESULTS: In discussing their caregiving experiences, CAM emerged as an important theme. The following sub-themes were identified: (1) trust in conventional medicine to cure cancer; (2) use of dietary modifications and restrictions; (3) extent of communication with healthcare providers about TCM use; and (4) limited availability of culturally relevant information. CONCLUSIONS: While Chinese immigrant parents in this study placed their trust in conventional medicine to treat their child, the use of food as therapy is part of their daily cultural practice. To ensure safe cancer treatment and more culturally sensitive care, it is essential for health providers to offer reliable information and encourage open discussions about CAM use with Chinese immigrant parents.


  • Watt, Lisa
  • Gulati, Sonia
  • Shaw, Nicola T
  • Sung, Lillian
  • Dix, David
  • Poureslami, Iraj
  • Klassen, Anne

publication date

  • February 2012