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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


  • Kakai, Hisako
  • Maskarinec, Gertraud
  • Shumay, Dianne M.
  • Tatsumura, Yvonne
  • Tasaki, Katsuya


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Kakai, Hisako & Maskarinec, Gertraud & Shumay, Dianne M. & Tatsumura, Yvonne & Tasaki, Katsuya, 2003. "Ethnic differences in choices of health information by cancer patients using complementary and alternative medicine: an exploratory study with correspondence analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 851-862, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:4:p:851-862

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Miller, Douglas L. & Paxson, Christina, 2006. "Relative income, race, and mortality," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 979-1003, September.
    2. Angus Deaton, 2001. "Relative Deprivation, Inequality, and Mortality," NBER Working Papers 8099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Victor R. Fuchs & Mark B. McClellan & Jonathan S. Skinner, 2004. "Area Differences in Utilization of Medical Care and Mortality among U.S. Elderly," NBER Chapters,in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 367-414 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650.
    5. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    6. Michael Grossman, 1976. "The Correlation between Health and Schooling," NBER Chapters,in: Household Production and Consumption, pages 147-224 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Jennifer M. Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 1999. "Re-Examining the Evidence of an Ecological Association between Income Inequality and Health," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9922, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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 Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 247-260, December.
    2. 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.


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