Negotiating biomedical and traditional Chinese medicine treatments among elderly Chinese Singaporean women

March 5, 2014, Wednesday, 3:30pm

CNM, AS6, #03-38, Playroom

In this study, the authors examined how elderly Chinese Singaporean women navigated between biomedicine and traditional Chinese medicine in their practices of maintaining well-being.  We interviewed 36 elderly women to understand their negotiation of health choices in the interplay of structural conditions, cultural contexts, and personal agency.  Results showed that participants confronted three dilemmas during decision-making processes: Conflicts between the cultural importance of traditional Chinese medicine and the institutional preference for biomedicine; tensions between health care providers in different medical systems; and a generation gap with younger family members.  In response, participants enacted agency through examination of effects and side-effects of each medical system and through integrated use of different medical treatments for different purposes.  The study findings unveil contextual meanings of health to participants and the unique coexistence of traditional and modern medical practices in a Singapore context.

Co-author: Iccha Basnyat, Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore.

Leanne Chang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore. Her research areas lie in political communication and health communication. She has conducted research on political legitimacy and citizen support for health policymaking; women’s use of mobile health technology; health information behaviors; and social support for women’s health.  Her work has been published in international journals, such as Journal of Communication, Communication Theory, International Journal of Medical Informatics, and Journal of Women & Aging.