Published On: 30 July 2008Tags:

Chinese people have a long history in the UK, but have a relatively low take-up rate in health and social care services. Health professionals have little understanding of their conception of health and illness and health needs are sometimes masked by myths and stereotypes or barriers to access. This paper outlines some of these barriers and highlights Chinese people’s diverse approaches to health and illness, advocating more choice and participation in their health and social care.

Key messages:

  • The Chinese community in the UK is a heterogeneous ethnic group
  • General assumptions made about Chinese people have affected understanding of their needs for health and social care services
  • Chinese people tend to adopt mixed approaches to health and illness
  • Chinese older people, women and middle-aged men working in the family catering industry are among the most vulnerable to exclusion from health services
  • Insensitivity to Chinese people’s needs on the part of mainstream health services has had negative consequences
  • To improve practice, there needs to be a better understanding of Chinese people’s health beliefs and health-seeking strategies; greater opportunities for user involvement and influence in health and social care services; and more innovative measures to facilitate access and assure quality


  • Diversity within the Chinese community
  • General assumptions about the influence of traditional culture
  • Chinese people’s diverse approaches to health and illness
  • Exclusion from health services
  • Insensitivity in mainstream health services
  • How to improve the quality of services
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Author(s): Ruby C.M. Chau
Briefing series: Better Health Briefing Paper 10
Publisher: Race Equality Foundation
Publication date:  July 2008