The health-care practices of Vietnamese-Canadian women: cultural influences on breast and cervical cancer screening

Tam Truong Donnelly
Canadian Journal of Nursing Research 2006, 38 (1): 82-101
Breast and cervical cancer are major contributors to morbidity and mortality among Vietnamese-Canadian women. Vietnamese women are at risk due to their low participation rate in screening programs for these cancers. The purpose of this exploratory qualitative study, informed by Kleinman's Exploratory Model of Health and Illness, was to explore the participation of Vietnamese-Canadian women in screening for breast and cervical cancer; the appropriateness of current cancer-prevention services for Vietnamese women; and the influence of social, cultural, political, historical, and economic factors, shaped by race, gender, and class, on the screening practices of Vietnamese-Canadian women. Fifteen Vietnamese-Canadian women and 6 health-care providers were interviewed. Analysis revealed that several factors influenced the women's participation in cancer screening. This paper reports on the process by which cultural knowledge and beliefs contributed to the women's health-care practices. The study revealed that the following cultural factors influenced the women's level of participation in screening programs for breast and cervical cancer: cultural knowledge and values with regard to women's bodies, conceptualization of health and illness, and beliefs and values concerning the patient/health-care provider relationship. The author offers recommendations on the promotion of screening for breast and cervical cancer among Vietnamese-Canadian women.

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