The Formation of Stigma and Its Social Consequences on Chinese People Living With Lung Cancer: A Qualitative Study

Xiaohang Liu

Jiudi Zhong

Jinying Ren

Jun-E Zhang

stigma, lung cancer, culture, China, smoking education, public health
ONF 2023, 50(5), 589-598. DOI: 10.1188/23.ONF.589-598

Purpose: To explore the formation of stigma toward lung cancer and its social consequences for Chinese patients living with this diagnosis.

Participants & Setting: A purposive sample of 19 patients with lung cancer were recruited in the outpatient clinic of a tertiary cancer center in southern China.

Methodologic Approach: This is a descriptive qualitative study. Semistructured interviews were conducted to explore the formation of stigma toward lung cancer and its social consequences. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and coded by the thematic analysis approach.

Findings: The following three themes emerged from interviews: (a) sources of stigma, (b) stigma manifestations, and (c) social consequences of stigma.

Implications for Nursing: Considering that the formation of lung cancer stigma is socioculturally specific, existing stereotypes and prejudice in Chinese society should be the focus of antistigma interventions at the population level. At the individual level, cancer concealment, resistance to cancer identity, and feelings of no longer being a normal person were three common manifestations that may be indicators for stigma screening among people with lung cancer. In addition, stigmas profoundly affected patients’ social lives and their help-seeking behaviors, and medical staff should use effective strategies to alleviate stigma toward lung cancer and its effects.

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