Older Chinese People at a Disadvantage for Cancer Care

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Cancer Treatment and Care

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have found that older Chinese people are disadvantaged when it comes to finding out about cancer screening, treatment and care, because of language and cultural barriers in the healthcare system.

The research project was led by Professor Sheila Payne in the palliative and end-of-life care research group at the University of Sheffield's School of Nursing and Midwifery. It involved focus groups and one-on-one interviews with older Chinese people in Sheffield and Manchester, to find out what older people from these communities know about cancer, its diagnosis, treatment and the care available locally.

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Professor Payne's team found that while most older Chinese people were keen to find out about cancer, they are at a disadvantage to access information about screening and treatments because of language barriers and levels of illiteracy in both English and oriental languages. In addition, people taking part in the research found that the lack of available interpreters or familiar Chinese food in hospitals to be a source of additional discomfort in times of illness.

The research also found that although most older Chinese people would choose western medical treatments for cancer over traditional Chinese medicine, they did not know about hospices and end-of-life care available to them beyond the hospital.

Professor Sheila Payne from the University of Sheffield said: "Our research has shown that older people from Chinese communities are at a disadvantage when trying to access information about cancer and treatments for cancer due to language and other cultural barriers."

"To combat this disadvantage, health care providers need to ensure that information about cancer is made readily available in written and audio formats, in the appropriate languages for the Chinese community. More needs to be done to cater for the specific needs of older Chinese people who have cancer, and to ensure that they have all the information to hand to make informed decisions about treatment and care."

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