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J Transcult Nurs. 2002 Apr;13(2):126-32.

Hmong health beliefs and experiences in the western health care system.

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  • 1California State University, Dominguez Hills, USA.


This ethnographic study was conducted to determine Hmong perspectives and beliefs that influence the Hmong experience in Western medical situations. Hmong perspectives regarding the body as well as descriptions of Hmong experiences within the American medical system were explored using participant observation and interviews over a 2-year time frame. Two focus groups were conducted to confirm findings. Data indicates that the Hmong language lacks terms that translate biomedical body physiology and anatomy. Medical terms and diagnoses lack direct translation and require extensive nondirect terms to approximate meaning. Differences between Hmong traditional beliefs and Western biomedical beliefs create a lack of understanding. Negative health care experiences result in Hmong community members' mistrust and fear of Western medicine.

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