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Developing Cultural Competency

Cultural Knowledge, Awareness, Sensitivity, Competence

V.  Chinese Culture

How do the Chinese deal with health and illness?

Most people in the Chinese culture view illness (and death) as a natural part of life  (Koreans view illness as bad luck, or the result of "karma" for something they did wrong in the past).

  • Health may be viewed as finding harmony between complementary energies such as cold and hot, dark and light, these forces are called yin and yang.
  • Most Chinese are comfortable with the duality between Western and traditional Chinese health beliefs.
  • They may use foods such as herbs to restore the yin/yang balance.
  • Special foods may be used and other approaches of healing, especially during the early stages of an illness.
  • Some traditional therapies, including massage, acupuncture, and "moxibuxtion" (a traditional chinese technique that involves the burning of Mugwort, a small, spongy herb, to facilitate healing) are commonly used as an adjunct to Western medicine.

Family and relationships

  • The Chinese culture emphasizes loyalty and devotion to traditions and puts less emphasis on individual feelings. Be aware of the importance of family members serving in caregiver roles.
  • Bad medical news is often shielded from the patient by the family in the belief that telling the patient will only make the patient's condition worse.

For more info…
See "Communicating with Your Chinese Patient" (from "Culture Clues," University of Washington Medical Center, Patient and Family Education Services - .pdf document, opens in a new browser window).

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