Health needs of the Chinese population in the UK are being ignored

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A new study has found that the health needs of the Chinese population in the UK are being ignored despite Government commitments to tackle health inequalities amongst patients.

The CIRCLE study, funded by Macmillan Cancer Relief, found many Chinese people believe that cancer can be caused by a bad mood, a weak body or poor quality blood. Food also played a part in causing cancer with bread, chicken skin and mouldy food being of most concern. There is also a great reluctance to talk about cancer, even to their closest relatives.

Most importantly, the study found that Chinese people lack information on prevention and the causes of cancer, early symptoms and screening programmes. Since English is not a first language for many Chinese people living in the UK, information is needed in Chinese and in different formats.

As a result of these communication barriers and cultural beliefs, many Chinese people could be missing vital cancer diagnoses or delays in treatment. They may also miss important prevention messages.

Co-author Melanie Ridge, Macmillan Primary Care Cancer Information Specialist, says, 'This study has highlighted the lack of knowledge there is on the needs of the Chinese population in relation to cancer and accessing services. There is a demand for more culturally appropriate information on better living conditions, healthier lifestyles and cancer prevention and treatment.'

In the light of the results, Macmillan Cancer Relief is to fund the first Chinese Primary Care Cancer Information worker to be situated at Westminster Chinese Library, within Charing Cross Library, London. There will be a cancer information drop-in service along with booklets in Chinese and English, support groups and signposting to health professionals.

The CIRCLE study, London, was undertaken by Melanie Ridge, Macmillan Information Specialist, at the NHS Soho Walk-in Centre, Professor Papadopoulos and Shelley Lees at the Research Centre for Transcultural Studies in Health, Middlesex University. The Chinese population is one of the largest and well established minority ethnic communities in the UK with around 247,000 residents.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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