Illness behaviors among the Chinese

Winnie W.S. Mak, Xiaohua Sylvia Chen

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Illness is an individual's subjective meaning and interpretation of the disease in his or her social context, whereas disease is referred to as the biological pathology or malfunctioning that requires medical or professional attention. This article focuses on how culture may influence the illness behaviours of Chinese. Illness behaviour includes the way people experience, interpret, and cope with the disease. People experience their physical and emotional states based on their sociocultural background and familial socialization. Cultural experiences also structure and shape people's value orientations and behavioural styles. As this article states, to understand better the mechanisms of distress of Chinese and to provide them with culturally competent services, the distress experience of the Chinese around the world must be understood from their cultural perspective. The examination of issues related to illness behaviours of Chinese is carried out focusing on empirical studies conducted in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and North America.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of Chinese Psychology
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191743542
ISBN (Print)9780199541850
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2012


  • Biological pathology
  • Illness behaviours
  • Mental health symptomatology
  • Sociocultural background
  • Value orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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