Challenges in providing breast and cervical cancer screening services to Vietnamese Canadian women: the healthcare providers' perspective

Tam Truong Donnelly
Nursing Inquiry 2008, 15 (2): 158-68
Breast cancer and cervical cancer are major contributors to morbidity and mortality among Vietnamese Canadian women. Vietnamese women are at risk because of their low participation rate in cancer-preventative screening programmes. Drawing from the results of a larger qualitative study, this paper reports factors that influence Vietnamese women's participation in breast and cervical cancer screening from the healthcare providers' perspectives. The women participants' perspective was reported elsewhere. Semistructured interviews were conducted with six healthcare providers. Analysis of these interviews reveals several challenges which healthcare providers encountered in their clinical practice. These include the physicians' cultural awareness about the private body, patient's low socioeconomic status, the healthcare provider-patient relationship, and limited institutional support. This is the first Canadian study to identify the healthcare providers' perspective on giving breast and cervical cancer preventive care to the Vietnamese immigrant women. The insight gained from these healthcare providers' experiences are valuable and might be helpful to healthcare professionals caring for immigrant women of similar ethno-cultural backgrounds. Recommendations for the promotion of breast cancer and cervical cancer screening among Vietnamese women include: (i) effort should be made to recruit Vietnamese-speaking female healthcare professionals for breast and cervical health-promotion programmes; (ii) reduce woman-physicians hierarchical relationship and foster effective doctor-patient communication; (iii) healthcare providers must be aware of their own cultural beliefs, values and attitudes that they bring to their practice; and (iv) more institutional support and resources should be given to both Vietnamese Canadian women and their healthcare providers.

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