The impact of Asian American value systems on palliative care: illustrative cases from the family-focused grief therapy trial

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2012 Sep;29(6):443-8. doi: 10.1177/1049909111426281. Epub 2011 Nov 17.


Background: Clinicians meet people from different ethnic backgrounds, yet need to respond in culturally sensitive ways. This article focuses on Asian American families.

Methods: Within a randomized controlled trial of family therapy commenced during palliative care and continued into bereavement, 3 families of Asian American background were examined qualitatively from a cultural perspective by listening to recordings of 26 therapy sessions and reviewing detailed supervision notes compiled by each therapist.

Results: A synopsis of each family's therapy narrative is presented. Prominent themes include family closeness, respect for hierarchy within the family, gender-determined roles, intergenerational tensions, preoccupation with shame and limited emotional expressiveness.

Conclusions: Family therapists working with culturally diverse families need to pay thoughtful attention to ethnic issues as they strive to support them during palliative care and bereavement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Asian* / psychology
  • Emotions
  • Family / ethnology
  • Family / psychology
  • Family Therapy*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • Shame
  • Social Values* / ethnology