Prevalence of Psychological Symptoms in Community-Dwelling Chinese American Patients with Chronic Cancer Pain


Cancer is common among older Chinese American immigrants. Psychological distress may be associated with cancer pain, yet prior studies have not examined this relationship. We conducted a secondary analysis of 514 Chinese Americans with cancer-related pain. Patients completed validated questionnaires, including the Chinese Health Questionnaire-12 (CHQ-12). Analyses evaluated associations among sociodemographics, acculturation, psychological distress, and pain variables. Most patients had low acculturation and socioeconomic levels. Overall, 51.9% of patients reported moderate-severe psychological distress, 35.8% reported worst pain intensity ≥7/10 over the previous week and 41.2% had high pain-related distress. Higher CHQ-12 scores were associated with younger age (β = −0.13); lower educational level (β = −0.12); birthplace in China (β = −0.18); lack of a caregiver (β = −0.10); higher worst pain intensity (β = 0.15); and higher pain-related distress (β = 0.28; all p < 0.05; R2 = 0.23). Chinese American cancer patients with chronic pain experience high psychological distress, which is associated with pain characteristics and other social factors.

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This work was supported by the American Cancer Society (Grant No. 117416-RSGT-09-201-01-PC) (Dhingra), the United States Cancer Pain Relief Committee (Dhingra), and the Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation (Dhingra). We gratefully acknowledge the office staff of Drs. Kin Yui Lam, Theresa Shao, William Cheung, and Zujun Li for their assistance with participant recruitment, and the patients who participated in this study.

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Pandey, D., Lam, K., Cheung, W. et al. Prevalence of Psychological Symptoms in Community-Dwelling Chinese American Patients with Chronic Cancer Pain. J Immigrant Minority Health (2021).

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  • Psychological distress
  • Cancer pain
  • Health disparities
  • Chinese Americans
  • Immigrant health