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Soc Sci Med. 2006 Mar;62(6):1498-509. Epub 2005 Oct 3.

"We are not completely Westernised": dual medical systems and pathways to health care among Chinese migrant women in England.

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University of Essex, Colchester, UK.


This examination of how Chinese migrant women resident in England engage with Western and Chinese healthcare systems when seeking treatment considers whether medical pluralism can enhance the cultural appropriateness of health care. The paper identifies the extent to which women's pathways to healthcare can be seen as 'Chinese' or as a reflection of the Western culture in which they live. It is based on an analysis of in-depth interviews with 42 women of Chinese origin living in the South East of England. Their use of Western and Chinese medicine is related to explanatory models underpinning health beliefs, treatment barriers encountered and resources drawn upon when seeking treatment. Variation is described, with some women using only Western medicine and others returning to their place of origin for indigenous Chinese medical treatment. Most, however, draw upon both medical systems. Women who are more connected with majority English culture are more successful in their consultations with Western health service practitioners but do not necessarily discontinue using Chinese medicine. We find that recourse to two different systems helps to overcome barriers when accessing health care. The health policy implications of the findings would suggest that a system that acknowledges and embraces medical pluralism would assist the development of culturally appropriate health care provision.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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