Common Illnesses And The Use Of CAM


The Course Outcome covered this week is CO1.

CO1: Identify theories, concepts, and beliefs related to transcultural nursing. (PO1)

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We encounter patients after they have explored various avenues of self-help. At times, these avenues involve the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Our readings this week are very helpful.

  1. Select a common (or not so common) illness or condition that affects a specific ethnic group.
  2. Identify two (2) CAM therapies that patients are likely to try before seeking (or in addition to) allopathic, osteopathic, or ayurvedic medical intervention for the illness or condition.
  3. Discuss the effectiveness of each therapy you identified.

Note: Do not discuss an illness or condition about which a classmate has already posted. The diversity will lead to a more robust discussion. There are many examples you may discuss, including sickle-cell disease in African Americans, constipation in the elderly people, or the use of Reiki for mental and emotional healing by Japanese people. Think of others from your practice settings or prelicensure experiences.

professor’s comment:

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Hello All,

This is one week I am really looking forward to because you are all experts in this area from all of your work with the patients and families you care for.  We all encounter patients after they have explored various avenues of self-help. At times, these avenues involve the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). I look forward to your choice for an illness that affects an ethnic group that you have worked with and the CAM therapies you identify.

Example: Class and Professor,

One not so common illness discussed is depression amongst Chinese population. There are cultural differences that must not be overlooked within this population when dealing with depression. While sadness may be reported, it also may not and it was repeated in multiple studies that often other symptoms are more prominent. “In a study to differentiate somatic versus psychological symptoms as a cultural expression of depression, Chinese outpatients reported more somatic symptoms compared to Euro-Canadians, who reported more psychological symptoms” (Andrews & Boyle, 2016).  As a health care provider it is important to recognize the differences.

Unlike persons living in the general U.S. population, Chinese and Chinese Americans often do not report feeling sad when they are depressed. Depression-related signs and symptoms that are commonly reported by Chinese patients include the following: Boredom, discomfort, pain fatigue, unexplained physical abnormalities” (Smith, 2018). Frequently, signs will be down-played or ignored by the patient for fear of embarrassment of diagnosis of a mental health condition. “There is a strong social stigma and sense of shame in Chinese culture regarding depression (Smith, 2018). Because of this seeking care may not be an option and care may be delayed.

Other than being prescribed medications as what seems last resort for depression, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM )therapies may be used. CAM therapies that are explored are Chinese herbal therapy, acupuncture, and movement therapy known as t’ai chi. As noted by Smith (2018), they are the most commonly used interventions for treatment of depression that is also known as “shenjing” in Chinese culture. There was such noted success with movement therapy, a study was formally recognized showing huge improvement of signs and symptoms among participants over a 12 week course (Smith, 2018). Movement therapy, specifically T’ai Chi should be explored as a recommendation for individuals who are capable and willing to try it before prescribing medications that often come with side effects.


  • Reference
  • Andrews, M. M., & Boyle, J. S. (2016). Transcultural concepts in nursing care (7th ed.). Philadelphia: PA. Wolters Kluwer.
  • Smith, N. (2018) Chinese Patients: Providing Culturally Competent Care to Patients with Depression. Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Reference: American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Andrews, M. M., & Boyle, J. S. (2016). Transcultural concepts in nursing care (7th ed.). Philadelphia: PA: Wolters Kluwer.

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