An article by Independence Care System (ICS) Nurse Care Manager Yizhou Jiang was recently published in IOMSNews, the official publication of the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses. The topic of her piece is cultural considerations when caring for Asian patients with MS.

Yizhou, an American of Chinese descent who moved to the United States at the age of seven, supports ICS members living with disabilities, including MS. In addition to her nursing degree, she has a Masters of Philosophy degree in cultural anthropology, and focused a portion of her studies on sociocultural perceptions of the body and illness in post-Cultural Revolution Mainland China.

Asian Americans and MS

In her article, “Celebrating Diversity: Caring for Asian Patients with MS,” Yizhou writes that MS is an uncommon diagnosis in Asians—specifically the Chinese population—living in the United States, and attributes this to both a lesser propensity to the disease but also to a lack of access to care related to insurance, language barriers, inadequate health literacy, and a reluctance to report symptoms. She also highlights that Asians generally take great pride in being health conscience and productive people who accept suffering as part of life, and strive to maintain an image of strength in the eyes of others. Yizhou also discusses how the population shies away from modern medicine because of concerns surrounding its side effects, and how they fear disability and appearing weak to others.

Managing Asian patients with MS

Yizhou’s article also focuses on the distrust Asian patients have for Western medicine, their preference for herbal and tradition remedies, and the admiration they have for health providers, while emphasizing the importance of distinguishing between patients who come from East Asia, Mainland China, Korea, and Japan versus Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, etc.).

Each of these factors, Yizhou said, must be considered when deciding on the most effective methods of managing Asian patients with MS.

Read “Celebrating Diversity: Caring for Asian Patients with MS” here.