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Eur J Integr Med. 2014 Feb 1;6(1):21-28.

Exploring a Culturally Relevant Model of Cancer Prevention Involving Traditional Chinese Medicine Providers in a Chinese American Community.

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Department of Health Education, San Francisco State University, HSS 327, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132-4161.
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, CA.
Division of General Internal Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA.
NICOS Chinese Health Coalition, San Francisco, CA.
Health Education Department, Chinatown Public Health Center, San Francisco, CA.



Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in all racial and ethnic groups. Although CRC screening is very cost-effective, screening rates are low among most ethnic groups, including Asian Americans. Given the high use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) among Chinese Americans one potentially useful approach to promote CRC screening in these communities could involve TCM providers in outreach efforts.


A two-phase study was conducted. The perceived suitability of TCM providers in CRC prevention was explored in Phase 1. Guided by Phase 1 findings, in Phase 2, a 38-page integrative educational flipchart was developed and tested. Focus groups and observations were conducted with TCM providers (acupuncturists and herbalists) and with limited English proficient Chinese American immigrants living in San Francisco, California.


In Phase 1, the role of TCM providers as CRC screening educators was deemed acceptable by both providers and community members, although some providers had reservations about engaging in CRC outreach activities due to lack of expertise. The majority of providers were not aware of regular CRC screening as a preventive measure, and most were not up-to-date in their own screening. In Phase 2, the integrative CRC education flipchart was perceived as culturally appropriate based on stakeholder input and feedback.


This study shows that TCM providers have the potential to be a valuable and culturally appropriate community resource for providing information on CRC screening. It suggests a potential role for traditional healers as change agents in the immigrant community health network.


Chinese American; Colorectal Cancer; Integrative Medicine; Preventive Screening; Public Health Education

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