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The illness with no ‘tail’: how foreign-born UK Chinese understand and manage Type 2 diabetes

Eng, Sookhoe 2012. The illness with no ‘tail’: how foreign-born UK Chinese understand and manage Type 2 diabetes. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Given the global rise of diabetes, the low uptake of GP services and prescribed medicine among UK Chinese is worrying. Little is known about their management of symptoms, compliance with treatment and implementation of lifestyle changes inherent in living with diabetes. Even less is known about whether they use Chinese folk medicine as part of their treatment regime. This qualitative study reduces this information gap based on data collected through focus group discussions and individual interviews. Eight focus group discussions were held in Leeds, Bristol, Birmingham and London with 37 foreign-born UK Chinese participants, including patients, friends and family members. On completion of the eight focus groups, 22 semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with both foreign and British-born Chinese with diabetes. Findings from the focus groups include (i) a reluctance to accept diabetes as a chronic illness, (ii) persistence in the use of folk remedies and (iii) an absence of use of professional Chinese medicine for diabetes, with the exception of one participant. Findings from the individual interviews on ideas about diabetes were similar to those from the focus groups, with further developments in the images of diabetes. With regards to self-management regimes, different coping styles indicated high levels of anxiety and uncertainty surrounding the nature of diabetes. Use of medicine, Chinese or otherwise, was found to be linked to levels of trust and integration with the host community. Themes consistent in both phases of the study include firstly, the description of diabetes as an illness with ‘no tail’ (mouhmei/meiwei 没尾) – the tail representing an end of an illness. Secondly, the cultural practice of food abstinence (gaihhauh/jikou 戒口) was perceived to be an effective method of control and prevention of the deterioration of diabetes. Finally, the relentless search for a cure expressed as ‘cutting the tail’ (tueihmei/duanwei 段尾) was evident in all the interviews. This study highlights the difficulties experienced by ethnic groups whose folk models of illness differ from those of biomedicine. It also addresses two important issues in the management of chronic illness: coping with uncertainty and the importance of trust. These results can help inform the future planning and delivery of healthcare services for ethnic minority groups.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:11

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