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Concepts Within the Chinese Culture That Influence the Cancer Pain Experience

Chen, Lih-Mih RN, PhD; Miaskowski, Christine PhD, RN, FAAN; Dodd, Marylin PhD, RN, FAAN; Pantilat, Steven MD

doi: 10.1097/01.NCC.0000305702.07035.4d
Articles

The purpose of this article is to describe some of the concepts within the Chinese culture that influence the sociocultural dimension of the cancer pain experience. The major concepts that influence Chinese patients' perspectives on cancer pain and its management include Taoism/energy, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Within the beliefs of Taoism/energy, pain occurs if Qi, or blood circulation, is blocked. To relieve pain, the blockage of Qi/blood must be removed and the person needs to maintain harmony with the universe. Within the beliefs of Buddhism, pain/suffering is a power, unwanted but existent, that comes from a barrier in the last life; from the objective world; from a person's own sensation; or from other people, animals, and materials. Only by following the 8 right ways (ie, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration) can an individual end the path of pain/suffering. A Confucian believes that pain is an essential element of life, a "trial" or a "sacrifice." Therefore, when a person suffers with pain, he or she would rather endure the pain and not report it to a clinician until the pain becomes unbearable. Oncology nurses who care for Chinese patients need to understand the fundamental beliefs that influence the sociocultural dimension of the pain experience for these patients. This information will assist the oncology nurse in developing a more effective pain management plan.

Authors' Affiliations: School of Nursing, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan (Ms Chen); Department of Physiological Nursing, University of California, San Francisco (Dr Miaskowski); Department of Physiological Nursing, University of California, San Francisco (Dr Dodd); and Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco (Dr Pantilat).

Corresponding author: Lih-Mih Chen, RN, PhD, School of Nursing, Kaohsiung Medical University, 100 Shi-Chuan 1st Road, San Ming District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan (Lih-Mih.Chen@ucsf.edu; limich@kmu.edu.tw).

Accepted for publication September 12, 2007.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.