Exploring the influence of traditional chinese medicine on self-care among Chinese cancer patients

Helen Y.L. Chan, Y. Y. Chui, Carmen W.H. Chan, Karis K.F. Cheng, Ann T.Y. Shiu, Winnie K.W. So, Sin Man Simone Ho, Maggie M.F. Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The aim of this study was to explore the influence of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) on self-care among Chinese cancer patients. Methods: This was an exploratory qualitative study. A purposive sample of thirty cancer patients who were currently undergoing either chemotherapy or radiotherapy was interviewed. Qualitative content analysis was conducted for data analysis. Results: Two core categories were emerged from their accounts of experiences with practising TCM-supported self-care activities: perceived beneficial effects and concerns about undesirable effects. The perceived beneficial effects of these self-care activities were mainly stemmed from the traditional beliefs in TCM, which included: strengthening the "origin", removing toxins, and mind-soothing. Concerns about undesirable effects of these self-care activities were raised due to lack of knowledge and unpleasant experience with these self-care activities. Conclusion: The findings revealed that the philosophy of TCM had been deeply integrated by Chinese cancer patients into their self-care. While Western medicine is the mainstream cancer treatment, Chinese cancer patients also practised various TCM-supported self-care activities. However, they were perplexed about the effects of these self-care activities. They could not ascertain whether the perceived benefits were just due to their own belief in the TCM philosophy, and their lack of knowledge in this aspect and unpleasant experience further confused them. Nurses have to be proactive in identifying the unique health-deviation self-care requisites of their clients in a culturally sensitive manner, explore how their self-care experience affects their wellbeing and treatment compliance, and be prepared to clarify misconceptions about their conditions and progress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-451
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese
  • Qualitative studies
  • Self care
  • Traditional chinese medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)


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