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J Community Health. 1999 Dec;24(6):421-37.

Between two worlds: the use of traditional and Western health services by Chinese immigrants.

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Department of Health Studies, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122-0843, USA.


This study examined the use of traditional and Western health services by Chinese immigrants, as well as the cultural and socioeconomic factors affecting health-seeking behaviors and health service utilization patterns among the study population from the perspectives of consumers and Chinese health care providers. Two instruments were used for data collection. The first, a consumer instrument, was designed for interviews of service recipients; the second, a health provider instrument, was designed to elicit information from traditional and Western providers. A few topics in the former instrument were cross-examined from the perspectives of health care providers. The investigation employed a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods for data collection. Qualitative ethnographic methods used included: (1) participant-observation, (2) face-to-face interview, and (3) case study. To complement the qualitative data, structured quantitative survey were conducted with all selected informants. A total of 105 informants participated in the study: 75 Chinese consumers and 30 Chinese health professionals. The latter group was composed of Western physicians and traditional practitioners. Results revealed several patterns of health-seeking and service utilization behaviors among the Chinese of Houston and Los Angeles. These included high rates of self-treatment and home remedies (balanced diets and other alternative medicines); medium rates of utilization of integrated Western and traditional health services, including travel to country of origin for care; and low rates of exclusive utilization of Western or traditional Chinese treatments.

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