A narrative inquiry into the Hong Kong Chinese adults' concepts of health through their cultural stories

Engle Angela Chan, Kin Cheung, Esther Mok, Sharon Cheung, Edmond Tong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Abundant studies have investigated how health concepts held by individuals shape and are shaped by psychosocial and cultural factors, though many were limited to the conceptual level. The meaning and significance of health behaviours are better understood as an expression of something occurring over time. Objectives: This narrative study explores how Hong Kong Chinese adults understand the meaning of health and the ways by which they construct and express these meanings in their lives. Additionally, by recognizing the central features of temporality, personal-social interactions within a place/culture in narrative thinking, this narrative inquiry may help health-care professionals to revisit the meaning of health promotion within the context of an individual's life situation. Methods: Five participants were recruited for the study. Data were collected through a series of audio-taped unstructured interviews and conversations with each participant. Results: Findings underscore several features of participants' concepts and expressions of health: the significance of Confucian teachings on roles and responsibilities, Eastern view of self, Western biomedical orientation, and Hong Kong's unique work culture. Their responses not only express the attitudes and behaviours of individuals, but also the ways they engage in their constructed identity. Conclusion: Participants' concepts of health evolved over time according to the personal meanings attached to them at various life stages. While participants recognized the interconnectedness of the mind and body, the physical foci of traditional Western medicine remained salient in their health stories. Furthermore, there is a clear delineation of personal management of the psychological health and professional management of physical health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-309
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2006


  • Chinese adult
  • Culture
  • Health
  • Hong Kong
  • Narrative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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