American Sociological Association

Complementary and Alternative Medical Service Use for Mental Health Problems among Chinese Americans: The Roles of Acculturation-related Factors

The author used data from the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys to examine the 12-month prevalence and predictors of the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) relative to conventional Western medical services among Chinese Americans. The author examined the differences in service utilization patterns between Chinese Americans and non-Hispanic whites and the effects of acculturation factors such as generational status and English proficiency within the population of Chinese Americans. Multinomial logistic regression analyses revealed significant heterogeneity of exclusive CAM use in response to mental health problems by race/ethnicity and generational status, as well as English proficiency, gender, age, marital status, education, employment status, having insurance, and having any probably psychiatric disorder. Specifically, first-generation Chinese immigrants lagged behind second-, third-, or higher generation Chinese Americans and non-Hispanic whites in the likelihood of using exclusive CAM services for mental health problems. In addition, this study revealed that exclusive CAM service use was more popular than the use of only conventional Western medicine or a combination of both among all Chinese Americans except for the second generations. The findings provide a more nuanced understanding of the pattern of mental health service use among Chinese Americans. Implications for policy and research are discussed.


Lin Zhu





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