201312 Exploring cultural issues among young Hmong girls who run away and return home

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Laurel Edinburgh, MSN, PNP , Children's Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
Carolyn Garcia, PhD, MPH, RN , School of Nursing, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Elizabeth Saewyc, PhD, RN, PHN , School of Nursing and the Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Background: Many teen runaways leave home to escape severe intra-familial conflict or abuse. Hmong teen runaways are less likely to report a history of prior family violence than other runaways. What influences their decisions to leave and return home? Gained understanding about context-specific influences could inform professionals' interventions with Hmong teens and their families.

Purpose: To explore Hmong adolescents' reasons for running away from home, and their perceptions of risks while on the run.

Theoretical Framework: Bronfenbrenner's ecological model facilitates understanding of social influences on runaway behavior.

Methodology: As part of a larger quasi-experimental intervention, a subset of 8 Hmong girls, ages 13 to 15, completed video diaries, reflecting on their runaway experiences in monologues. Atlas.ti software facilitated coding of video data into descriptive themes.

Results: Rich cultural insights about Hmong girls' runaway experiences were observed and organized into 4 categories: 1) life at home before I run (e.g., culturally-specific family role expectations that conflict with the dominant culture's teen roles, boredom, and impulsivity); 2) when I run away; 3) reasons I stay away and come home (e.g., enjoyment of “playing” away from home, boyfriend's wishes, and missing family), and 3) I'm trying to change (e.g., not wanting siblings to learn risky behaviors).

Implications: Public health professionals should be aware of the strong development influences on Hmong girls' decisions to runaway, including concrete thinking and impulsivity. Hmong parents demonstrate willingness to allow girls home following multiple runaway incidents. Culturally-specific assessment and treatment of Hmong runaway girls is warranted.

Learning Objectives:
1. To identify at least 3 factors influencing Hmong adolescent girls’ decisions to run away. 2. To describe 2 ways in which interventions addressing Hmong runaway girls are distinct from those reaching youth of other ethnicities.

Keywords: Culture, Runaways

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have assisted with the study, data analysis.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.