Background. The burden of illness associated with Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) has determined this as a key focus for research at a basic science, individual and population level. Although considerable research has been conducted on specific aspects of the experience of CHD, such as anxiety or depression, there is a lack of research investigating the global aspects of the illness experience from the individual's perspective. Furthermore, there is a paucity of research examining the cross-cultural experiences of patients from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds (NESB). Given the multicultural nature of Australian society, and that health and illness are culturally constructed experiences (Manderson 1990), it is important to include the perspectives of people from minority cultures in health related research in order to provide culturally sensitive and appropriate health care and information during an illness. Further, the potential to prevent and modulate the course of CHD, by strategies such as smoking cessation and lipid management, mandate a health promotion agenda based on equity and access for all members of society.
Aims. This article discusses cultural aspects of CHD in relation to nursing and allied health care during the recovery phase of an acute cardiac event. It reviews the research that has been conducted in this area, focusing on the Chinese-Australian population.
Literature search. The CINAHL, MEDLINE, FAMILY (Australian Family and Society Abstracts Database), PsychINFO, and Multicultural Australian and immigration Studies (MAIS) databases were searched, identifying literature published from 1982. Keywords used were Chin* (Chinese, China), Asia* (Asia, Asian), experience, adjustment, psychological, heart, coronary, cardiac, health and services. Reports not written in English were excluded. Australian Government reports were also searched, as well as hand searching of nursing and medical textbooks. These searches resulted in over 1000 articles. However, only around 50 were relevant for this review.
Implications. Chinese-Australians are one of the fastest growing populations in Australia, and are at increased risk of CHD upon settling to Australia. Recommendations for future research and for the practice of nursing are provided.