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Ethnic differences in choices of health information by cancer patients using complementary and alternative medicine: an exploratory study with correspondence analysis


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  • Kakai, Hisako
  • Maskarinec, Gertraud
  • Shumay, Dianne M.
  • Tatsumura, Yvonne
  • Tasaki, Katsuya
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    This study examined patterns in the use of health information among Caucasian, Japanese, and non-Japanese Asian Pacific Islander cancer patients in Hawaii and explored the relation of ethnicity and educational level to choices of health information sources. Information from 140 cancer patients, most of whom were users of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), was analyzed using correspondence analysis. Three clusters of health information pertinent to the three ethnic groups emerged from the data. The results of this study revealed that Caucasian patients preferred objective, scientific, and updated information obtained through medical journals or newsletters from research institutions, telephone information services, and the internet. Japanese patients relied on media and commercial sources including television, newspapers, books, magazines and CAM providers. Non-Japanese Asians and Pacific Islanders used information sources involving person-to-person communication with their physicians, social groups, and other cancer patients. A higher educational level was closely related to a cluster of health information stressing objective, scientific and updated information, while a lower educational level was associated with interpersonally communicated information. The three ethnicity-specific patterns of health information use remained relatively stable at different educational levels, implying that the effect of patients' ethnicity overrides their educational level in shaping their choices of health information. The results of this study indicate the importance of recognizing cancer patients' culturally developed world views when understanding their health information-seeking behavior. For medical practice, these findings indicate the need for healthcare providers to assist cancer patients to obtain accurate health information in a culturally sensitive way.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 56 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 4 (February)
    Pages: 851-862

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:4:p:851-862

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    Keywords: Cancer Health information Ethnicity Complementary medicine Japanese-Americans Asians Pacific Islanders;


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    Cited by:
    1. Bin Xie & David M. Dilts & Mikhael Shor, 2006. "The physician-patient relationship: the impact of patient-obtained medical information," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(8), pages 813-833.
    2. Chun-Chih Chen & Yen-Ju Lin & Ying-Tzu Lin, 2013. "Awareness and utilization of preventive care services among the elderly under National Health Insurance," International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 247-260, December.


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