Emerging From the “Ku:” Fluctuating in Adjusting With Breast Cancer—A Post-Traumatic Growth Theory Situated Within Chinese Culture

Jianxia Zhai, Jennifer M. Weller-Newton, Kaori Shimoinaba, Hong Chen, Beverley Copnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This purpose of the study was to construct a model (theory) to understand Chinese women’s adjustment process in living with breast cancer. A constructivist grounded theory method was adopted in this study. A total of 24 women were recruited through purposive and theoretical sampling. Semi-structured, audio-recorded interviews were undertaken in Chinese and transcribed. Initial coding, focused coding, and theoretical coding approaches were used to identify subcategories and categories, and to construct the emergent theory. The basic social process these women used to deal with the breast cancer diagnosis was identified as: Emerging from the ‘ku’: Fluctuating in adjusting with breast cancer. Four categories were revealed following analysis: confronting challenges, orienting to reality, accommodating the illness, and transforming their lives, which encapsulated the main cognitive and emotional processes in which Chinese women engaged in their adjustment to living with their illness. The core process was influenced by a variety of contextual influences, which were identified as personal factors, social-environmental factors, and some specific cultural factors which emphasized positive changes. Chinese cultural values such as “Wuwei” coping strategies, familial primacy, and Chinese self-disclosure contribute to Chinese women’s adjustment processes and post-traumatic growth experiences. Hence, there is a need to consider Chinese cultural features, in designing culturally tailored supportive programs in multi-cultural clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1674-1683
Number of pages10
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Emerging From the “Ku:” Fluctuating in Adjusting With Breast Cancer—A Post-Traumatic Growth Theory Situated Within Chinese Culture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this