Stigma and Beliefs of Efficacy Towards Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Psychiatric Treatment Among Chinese-Americans

Lawrence H. Yang, Jo C. Phelan, Bruce G. Link

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this study we examined community attitudes of efficacy and shame to investigate the factors that may underlie mental health service underutilization among Chinese Americans. We administered an experimental vignette to assess beliefs of efficacy and shame toward using traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as opposed to Western health services in a sample of 90 Chinese Americans obtained through a national telephone survey. Contrary to predictions, beliefs of efficacy for treating mental disorders were found to be greater for Western psychiatric services when compared with TCM. As predicted however, Chinese Americans perceived greater community attitudes of shame when accessing Western psychiatric services as opposed to TCM to treat a mental disorder. Furthermore, these differences in community attitudes of shame only occurred among respondents who received a psychiatric condition vignette, but not with respondents who were administered a vignette of a physical disorder. These findings suggest that perceived shame may play an important role in help seeking and that integration of TCM with Western psychiatric care may have implications for reducing shame for Chinese Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-18
Number of pages9
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008



  • Chinese
  • efficacy
  • psychiatric treatment
  • stigma
  • traditional Chinese medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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