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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring the dietary choices of Chinese women living with breast cancer in Metro Vancouver Ng, Brenda


Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Canadian women, including women from immigrant groups. Many women with breast cancer believe that diet is responsible for their cancer and recurrence. Several ethnic groups have culturally distinctive views on food and its consumption, including the Chinese who constitute the largest visible minority population in Metro Vancouver. Studies have shown that Chinese breast cancer patients in other countries integrate their cultural beliefs about diet and traditional Chinese medicine to prevent cancer recurrence and promote health. However, limited studies have been performed to understand the dietary choices and information needs of Chinese breast cancer patients in British Columbia (B.C.). Currently there are few culturally specific resources despite the large immigrant population in the province. In this qualitative study, purposive sampling was used to recruit 19 first- and second-generation Chinese Canadian women aged 41-73 years in Vancouver, who have been diagnosed with breast cancer within the last five years. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed using qualitative data analysis software and manual coding. Themes were developed using interpretive description methodology, an inductive approach to understanding clinical phenomena and generate implications for clinical practice. A follow-up focus group was held with participants to validate the emergent themes and enhance rigour. Five main themes were generated; (i) dietary change process, (ii) goals of dietary change, (iii) dietary beliefs and uncertainties, (iv) barriers and facilitators to dietary change and (v) information and resource needs. Participants implemented dietary changes to various degrees and the majority reduced consumption of meat. Many expressed fear and uncertainties over the effects of some foods after diagnosis. Barriers and facilitators to dietary change were family preference, convenience, taste and cost. The main sources of diet related information were family, friends, Internet, media, supportive cancer care centre, and doctors of traditional Chinese medicine. Participants revealed the need for consistent, credible and culturally sensitive information on the health effects of certain foods. The preferred means of delivery include a website and/or seminars conducted in Chinese by healthcare professionals who are familiar with Chinese dietary preferences.

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