Symptoms, self-care, and quality of life of Chinese American patients with cancer

Oncol Nurs Forum. 2007 Nov;34(6):1162-7. 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asian Americans*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires