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March 27, 2007 > Study of Chinese Americans with Type 2 Diabetes

Study of Chinese Americans with Type 2 Diabetes

The San Francisco Chinese Family Diabetes Project is seeking U.S. born and foreign-born Chinese couples where one member has type 2 diabetes. Volunteers will participate in interviews and discussions for a research study of culturally specific ways that Chinese families take care of family members with diabetes.
"Most people are not aware that diabetes occurs in Chinese Americans at almost double the rate of whites," said Kit Chesla, RN, DNSc, principal investigator of the study, which is supported by the National Institutes of Health.
"In a preliminary stage of this study, we found that medical professionals who treat persons with diabetes often were not aware of culturally appropriate ways to help Chinese patients cope with their life-long condition," Chesla said. Patients recalled that at diagnosis, "The doctor told me, 'Don't eat this! Don't eat that!' ...According to the Chinese way of doing things, when someone is sick, you don't tell them not to eat. Instead you buy more things for them to eat." Kevin Chun, co-principal investigator noted that patients and their families emphasized the need for balance rather than restrictions in eating.
Chesla is a professor in the UCSF School of Nursing, an expert on family and health care in diverse ethnic groups. Her colleagues in this research are Kevin Chun, PhD, associate professor of Psychology and Asian American Studies at the University of San Francisco, and Christine Kwan, PhD, project director in the UCSF Department of Family Health Care Nursing.
Working with as more than 60 American-born and foreign-born Chinese couples, they hope to develop knowledge that can help health care providers do a better job of treating type 2 diabetes in this community. Since Chinese culture is built around family, they are looking at how families understand and take care of this illness, how they combine Traditional Chinese Medicine with biomedical health care prescriptions, and how acculturation influences these health beliefs and practices.
Persons with Type 2 diabetes and their spouses or partners can join the Chinese Family Diabetes Project by calling Christine Kwan at UCSF at 415-476-3889.

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