Suffering in Silence: Impact of Tobacco Use on Communication Dynamics Within Vietnamese and Chinese Immigrant Families

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Abstract

The goal of this project was to explore family communication dynamics and their implications for smoking cessation. We conducted 39 in-depth dyadic and individual qualitative interviews with 13 immigrant smoker-family member pairs of Vietnamese (n = 9 dyads, 18 individuals) and Chinese (n = 4 dyads, 8 individuals) descent, including seven current and six former smokers and 13 family members. All 13 dyadic and 26 individual interviews were analyzed using a collaborative crystallization process as well as grounded theory methods. We identified three interrelated pathways by which tobacco use in immigrant Vietnamese and Chinese families impacts family processes and communication dynamics. Using a two-dimensional model, we illustrate how the shared consequences of these pathways can contribute to a dynamic of avoidance and noncommunication, resulting in individual family members “suffering in silence” and ultimately smoking being reinforced. We discuss the implications of these findings for development of smoking cessation interventions.

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