The experience of Chinese immigrant women in caring for a terminally ill family member in Australia

Mary T. Heidenreich, Fung Kuen Koo, Kate White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Chinese community, a heterogeneous, highly visible non-English speaking ethnic group in Australia, remains mostly hidden and underrepresented in palliative care service delivery along with participation in health research despite being the fastest growing such group in the country. There is a lack of Australian research information concerning the impact of migration on the caregiving experience of women carers within the Chinese cultural framework and the Australian palliative care context. This paper aims to explore the influence of Chinese cultural norms and immigration on the experience of immigrant women of Chinese ancestry caring for a terminally ill family member at home in Sydney. This study also seeks to identify factors that may present access barriers to palliative care support services. A qualitative approach was used in this study. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews with five home-based Chinese women carers and were analysed using thematic analysis. Findings identified that the participants found being a carer is a lonely and isolating experience. Sources of isolation and loneliness included social isolation experienced as a solitary carer without meaningful family and social relationships; loss of familiar cultural understandings and family values; and emotional isolators expressed in response to the physical and emotional role commitment and other constraints. The study results suggest the need for palliative care educational programmes designed to help nurses to understand the impact of cultural background within the palliative care context. Results also indicate that health care professionals should provide culturally appropriate and competent palliative care services, sensitive to the diverse socio-cultural influences and individual needs of Chinese migrants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-285
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'The experience of Chinese immigrant women in caring for a terminally ill family member in Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this