266087 Understanding how cultural survival practices may reduce health disparities

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bouapanh Lor , School of Natural Sciences, University of California Merced, Merced, CA
Stergios Roussos, PhD, MPH , ACRD, Merced, CA
Throughout the US, communities are challenged to address health disparities for immigrants, refugees, and displaced populations. Because all cultures establish traditions vital to their survival, existing cultural practices may be important when addressing health disparities. Interviews were conducted with 12 Hmong refugees resettled in the United States regarding traditional survival practices used to prevent diseases and maintain good health. Daily use of personal gardens and ethnic groceries were seen as practices that preserved culture but also allowed for the control of a healthier diet and food intake. Building and maintaining relationships with people such as shaman and clan leaders help to ensure access to information and resources. This is significant because the main source of spreading information is by word of mouth. Lastly, the practices of cultural education or the inter-generational transmission of cultural knowledge was seen as essential to refugees or immigrants when adapting to a new geographic area. Identifying traditional dietary practices may be vital when addressing health disparities related to nutrition and diet with any culture. Cultural methods of communication may also play a key role in awareness and education of preventative practices towards illnesses and diseases. Identifying traditional health practices may help to improve culturally appropriate and sensitive healthcare towards refugee and immigrant patients. Future research would benefit from a mixed methods approach that is more cautious about terms used to describe the study aims and needs to understand how survival practices may contribute to addressing health disparities for refugees, immigrants, and displaced populations.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify cultural survival practices in the Hmong culture that may be adapted towards addressing health disparities with refugees and immigrants in the United States.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal investigator on this particular research project. Although this is my first research project, I am Hmong and have always had an interest in helping refugees and immigrants improve their health here in the United States.
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.