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Women Health. 2004;40(1):21-40.

Popular health promotion strategies among Chinese and East Indian immigrant women.

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Women's Health Program at University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.



To advance understanding about the popular health promotion strategies and factors associated with the successful transfer and uptake of health messages among Chinese and Indian immigrant women.


Eight focus groups were conducted with 46 immigrant women, 24 from Mainland China and 22 from India, who had lived less than 5 years in Canada. Audiotaped data were transcribed, translated and analyzed by identification of themes and subcategories within and between groups.


In both ethnic groups, discussions on promoting health messages had five major themes, i.e., sources, barriers, facilitators, credibility and ways to improve access along with group specific sub-themes. Despite identification of several diverse sources of health information in the adopted country, Indian and Chinese immigrant women perceived most strategies as not very effective. The reasons of perceived ineffectiveness were barriers to accessing and comprehending the health messages; and limited prior exposure to institution based or formal health promotion initiatives. These women were more familiar with informal means of obtaining health information such as social networks, mass media and written materials in their mother tongue.


Existing health communication and health promotion models need to be re-orientated from a one-way information flow to a two-way dialogue model to bridge the gap between program efficacy and effectiveness to reach underserved immigrant women. An "outside the box" approach of non-institutional informal health promotion strategies needs to be tested for the studied groups.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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