When East meets West: intensive care unit experiences among first-generation Chinese American parents

J Nurs Scholarsh. 2009;41(3):268-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1547-5069.2009.01290.x.


Purpose: To explore the experiences of first-generation Chinese American parents while their infants are cared for in intensive care units (ICUs).

Design: Because the study focus was on understanding the experiences of parents, a phenomenological approach was used, with open-ended questions that encouraged participants to describe events they perceived to be important. The data analysis procedure suggested by van Manen was used for the qualitative data analysis.

Participants/setting: A convenience sample of 25 first-generation Chinese American families, with infants hospitalized in the intensive care units of three teaching hospitals in the San Francisco area.

Results: Seven themes were identified: perceived incompetence, self-blame, blame from others, filial piety, lack of support in the US, communication issues, and cultural differences.

Conclusions: Both fathers and mothers experienced stress related to all identified themes. Findings suggest the need for more resources to educate and support families as well as culturally competent care within pediatric ICUs. Further study is critical to understand how the Chinese American's personal and family characteristics may influence stress perceptions when coping with their children's hospitalization.

Clinical relevance: This study can help healthcare providers to understand Chinese American parents' perceptions while their infants are hospitalized in the ICU, which can enhance cultural competence care services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Asian Americans / education
  • Asian Americans / ethnology*
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • China / ethnology
  • Communication Barriers
  • Cultural Competency
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / organization & administration
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / psychology*
  • Intergenerational Relations / ethnology
  • Male
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Parents / education
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Qualitative Research
  • San Francisco
  • Self Efficacy
  • Shame
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires