Hmong Culture Health Hmong Health Culture the Essay

Download this Essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Essay:

Hmong Culture Health

Hmong Health Culture

The Hmong people are a group of Asian-Americans who have been living in the United States since an immigration program was started in 1975. Because of their strong animistic faith and beliefs in the supernatural, they have been slow to adapt to the healthcare practices of the United States. The Hmong continue to rely on alternative medicine and faith healers to cure illnesses.

Health Beliefs and Practices among the Hmong

The health practices and beliefs of the Hmong people are traditional for the most part. The Hmong are a spiritual people and this philosophy permeates their concepts of health and illness (Cha, 2010). Like all other matters of an individual's existence, the health of a person is also linked to the community. The clan elder is consulted in the case of a serious illness. The help of an herbal therapist massage therapist or acupuncture therapist may be sought. In more serious cases, the services of faith healers are sought to rid the body of evil spirits causing the illness.

The Hmong are sensitive about the sanctity and authority of their community or clan (Her, 2010) and do not give much weight to the opinions of people outside their clan. This includes practitioners of western medicine. The Hmong are averse to discussing their health problems with a physician and taking drugs as prescribed by the doctor. They are also less likely to visit a hospital or undertake surgical treatment. Their fatalistic philosophies also discourage them from taking immunizations or seeking treatment for chronic illnesses (Cha, 2003).

Traditional Diet of the Hmong

The traditional Hmong diet is extremely simple and plain compared with the American diet of the country they have migrated to. The Hmong have traditionally been mountain dwelling people in the region of Southern China, Laos and Thailand where rice is grown. Therefore, rice is the staple of their daily diet. The Hmong have three meals a day, which forms the basis of their dietary regimen. Hmong food is neither spicy nor fried. Salt is rarely added to the food while cooking but is served at the dining table in a separate bowl to be added as seasoning as required by the family members at the table (Meester et al. 2010).

Fish and vegetables make an important part of the diet and usually accompany the rice. The fish and vegetables are also cooked very plainly and are eaten boiled with minimal use of spices. However, chilies may be served with the meal so that people may add it according to their taste. The Hmong also incorporate soup in their diet which may be made more luxurious by the addition of pieces of burnt fat (Lee & Tapp, 2010).

The Hmong are not particular about having something sweet after a meal but the sugarcane grown on farmland may be used as a source of sugar in the diet. Traditional snacks include corn on the cob and fruits that grow plenty in the mountainous region and in the plains. Baked sweet potato is also eaten by the Hmong as an afternoon snack (Lee & Tapp, 2010).

Origins and Brief History of the Hmong People

The Hmong people are native to areas including the mountainous regions in Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos but are believed to have originated in southern China (Hillmer, 2009). They have never had a separate national homeland throughout the course of their history. They have been called by various names including Meo and Miao. They have lived in the mountainous regions where they have built a civilization based on farming and hunting. They have lived in large clans. Knowledge has been guided through a belief in animistic and supernatural forces.

There was no Hmong written language until the 1950s, which has made it difficult for much of Hmong history to survive beyond a few generations. Moreover, the Hmong history is based on memories rather than written documents. Because of this factor, there is little uniformity in the historical accounts of the various clans of the Hmong community. The Hmong did not make an impact on the international scene until the start off the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Being against Communist rule in China as well, the Hmong cooperated with the American forces in fighting the communist forces in Vietnam (Hamilton-Merritt, 1993).

Because of the strategic location of their communities at the junction of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, they were recruited and trained by the United States during the Vietnam War to prevent any communication and cooperation between the Vietnamese and the Laotians. After the and withdrawal of American forces, the Hmong people had to face repercussions in Laos.

Migration to the United States

After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, the Hmong people were persecuted for collaborating with the Americans in their local communities. The United States then announced an immigration program for the displaced Hmong people. After the announcement, it was estimated that there were around 250,000 Hmong people present in the region and would be relocated to the United Sates. The Hmong then started living in refugee camps in various countries such as Laos and Thailand. In the first stage of the immigration process, around 1000 Hmong were relocated to the United States.

Because of their isolated and reclusive way of life, the United States government wanted to take measures to acculturate them into American society. For this reason, the various immigrant Hmong were dispersed across the rural and urban parts of the country so that they could not live with their clans as was their tradition. Families were also separated as the United States would initially only allow a maximum of eight family members to immigrate with one individual. In the United States, there are around 250,000 Hmong people (Miller & Rasco, 2011). The Hmong population is spread in California, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and North Carolina. Smaller populations are scattered in other western states.

Impact of Cultural Beliefs on Healthcare Treatment

Expressing emotion is a sign of weakness in the Hmong culture. People do not share their feelings with others outside the family or the clan. In particular, mental illnesses are a taboo to be disclosed or discussed with members outside the family. The people do not believe in any biological cause of the disease but in a spiritual interpretation. According to the Hmong culture, the deterioration of health is caused by spiritual or supernatural influences on the body. The body falls ill when an evil force tries to separate the soul from the body. Because of these deep-rooted beliefs, the Hmong have traditionally been resistant to western healthcare practices. The western norm of medical counseling is alien to the Hmong culture and they perceive it to be a challenge to their traditional beliefs. They are more likely to seek help from the community faith healers than professional medical help (Tatman, 2004).

An important cultural factor in healthcare among the Hmong is gender. Typically, Hmong prefer a male physician to treat a male patient and similarly for females. Communication barriers between the sexes are high in Hmong culture. The role of the clan elder is very important in Hmong culture. The elder is the highest authority in the community and no measure can be taken without his approval. Healthcare professionals including physicians are often advised to involve the clan elder in the counseling process to gain maximum compliance from the patient and his or her family (Tatman, 2004).

The Role of Spiritual Rituals in Healthcare among the Hmong

The Hmong are a spiritual people and they believe in animism. They ascribe spiritual powers to natural objects such as trees and mountains (Livo & Cha, 1991). Therefore, they also believe that illness or death is caused by spiritual forces rather than physical or biological causes. When a person in…[continue]

Cite This Essay:

"Hmong Culture Health Hmong Health Culture The" (2012, May 28) Retrieved November 29, 2016, from

"Hmong Culture Health Hmong Health Culture The" 28 May 2012. Web.29 November. 2016. <>

"Hmong Culture Health Hmong Health Culture The", 28 May 2012, Accessed.29 November. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Complexities of Culture and Counseling

    Culture and Counseling In her book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, author Anne Fadiman recounts the life and death of a little Hmong girl living in Merced, California. Lia Lee had what Western doctors call epilepsy, and which the Hmong have a far more lyrical explanation that lends itself to the title of Fadiman's book. The most common neurological disease, epilepsy can be frightening and potentially debilitating. However,

  • Culture s Impact on Healthcare Culture Midwestern White

    Culture's Impact On Healthcare Culture: Midwestern, (White Female) The following are the top 5 characteristics of my culture: Conservative political values. May cause a closed mine and limit the imagination. Political lines are dogmatic and prevent free thinking. Family orientated. This bias may cause the individual to be too loyal on one's family. It is very difficult to see our families for who they truly are. Open minded: Too much open-mindedness may lead to foolish

  • Hmong This Saying Attributed to

    Lia Lee could not be seen alone, as the doctors saw her. Their obligation was not only to her, but to her whole family. Lia Lee's brother aptly writes: I do recall everything from the door slamming incident to the day the doctors told my family that it was okay for her to come but she will not live pass 7 days. I will never forget that week or those

  • Hmong Have Experienced Continual Cultural

    When the Hmong refugees encounter the peculiarities of the Western medical system, their entire worldview is called into question. Yet it is mainly the Americans who struggle. The Hmong view of health, healing, and wellness differ so sharply from that of the Americans that it is we who must examine our beliefs, not the Hmong. History has not been kind to the Hmong. Yet in some ways, this cruelty has

  • Health Belief Model During the 1950 s the

    Health belief model During the 1950's, the Health Belief model (HBM) was developed from the field of social psychology. The theoretical framework offers an explanation of why individuals are motivated to participate in preventive health behaviors. The model has five perception constructs of susceptibility, severity, benefits, barriers, and cues to action. In this setting the HBM predicts what prevention behaviors diabetic patients will engage in to avoid foot pathology and

  • Healthy Again Health Promotion Program Parts B

    Healthy Again Health Promotion Program Parts B & C -- Competency Statements and Relevant Objectives Nurse professionals will endeavor to work as a team in collaborative relationships whenever possible. Nurses understand and engage in effective communication Work with team and colleagues to ensure a safe and effective medical environment Authenticate relationships between colleagues, patients, and stakeholders through mutual respect and honesty Engender and actively pursue a cycle of learning and improving self and through professional means,

  • Grant Proposal the Saint Anselm s

    The growing number of New Yorkers lacking health insurance has been a persistent concern of government as well as the public. (309) In contrast, the distribution of health care resources came to the fore more recently. The New York State Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, for example, recommended a series of hospital closures and downsizing, based primarily on financial considerations in 2006. (310) As described below,

Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved