Roles of Illness Attributions and Cultural Views of Cancer in Determining Participation in Cancer-Smart Lifestyle among Chinese and Western Youth in Australia


Background: The study investigated the influence of culturally-based health beliefs on engagement in healthylifestyle behaviour. Specifically, the study compared levels of engagement between Western and Chinese youthin Australia and assessed the extent to which culture-specific attributions about the causes of illness, and healthbeliefs, predict engagement in healthy lifestyle behaviour. Materials and
Methods: Ninety-four Western and 95Chinese (N=189; Mean Age=20.8 years, SD=3 years) young adults completed an online questionnaire. Predictorvariables were cultural health beliefs measured by the Chinese Cultural Views on Health and Illness scale(CCVH, Liang et al., 2008), and illness attributions beliefs measured by the Cause of Illness Questionnaire (CIQ,Armstrong and Swartzman, 1999). Outcomes variables were levels of engagement in healthy lifestyle behaviour.
Results: Results indicated that Chinese participants have a significantly lower exercising rate and healthy dietaryhabits compared to the Western sample. Moreover, Chinese participants were found to believe more strongly thanWesterners that cancer was associated with factors measured by the Traditional-Chinese-Model (TCM). Finally,the observed relationship between cultural health beliefs and physical inactivity was mediated by attributions ofillness, in particular to the supernatural subscale, with the Sobel Test showing a significant mediation (z=-2.63,p=0.004).
Conclusions: Mainstream approaches to encourage healthy lifestyles are unlikely to be effective wheneducating Chinese youth. Instead, health promotion programs should attempt to address the illness attributionbeliefs and educate Chinese youth about the role of diet and exercise in prevention of diseases such as cancer.