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Symptoms, Self-Care, and Quality of Life of Chinese American Patients With Cancer

Fang-yu Chou
Marylin Dodd
Donald Abrams
Geraldine Padilla
ONF 2007, 34(6), 1162-1167 DOI: 10.1188/07.ONF.1162-1167

Purpose/Objectives: To explore the cancer symptom experience, self-care strategies, and quality of life (QOL) among Chinese Americans during outpatient chemotherapy.

Design: Descriptive, exploratory cohort study.

Setting: An outpatient infusion unit at a public urban county medical center.

Sample: 25 Chinese-speaking patients with cancer completed the study. Participants were first-generation immigrants with low levels of acculturation; 88% could not read English; 64% had an annual household income of less than $20,000.

Methods: Participants completed a basic demographics data sheet, the Suinn-Lew Acculturation Scale, the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale and Self-Care Diary weekly for three weeks, and the Multidimensional QOL Scale-Cancer and Short-Form 36 Health Survey at the start and end of one chemotherapy cycle. Study instruments were translated into Chinese.

Main Research Variables: Symptoms, self-care, QOL, and acculturation.

Findings: Participants reported experiencing about 14 symptoms weekly. Lack of energy, hair loss, dry mouth, sleep difficulty, and loss of appetite were reported most frequently. On average, about two self-care strategies per symptom were reported and were low to moderate in effectiveness. About 20% of the sample listed Chinese medicine as part of their self-care strategies. A moderate level of QOL was reported.

Conclusions: Using translated standardized questionnaires can be a feasible method of data collection in studies with non-English-speaking patients. However, having well-trained, bilingual data collectors is important. More attention to long-term cancer self-management in minority patients with cancer is needed.

Implications for Nursing: Further research is needed with larger samples, more efficient community-based recruitment strategies, and the development and testing of culturally sensitive interventions.

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