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Medical mistrust and discrimination in health care: a qualitative study of Hmong women and men

TitleMedical mistrust and discrimination in health care: a qualitative study of Hmong women and men
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsThorburn, S, Kue, J, Keon, KL, Lo, P
JournalJ Community HealthJ Community Health
Volume37
Pagination822-9
Date PublishedAug
ISBN Number1573-3610 (Electronic)<br/>0094-5145 (Linking)
Accession Number22116737
KeywordsAcculturation, Adolescent, Adult, Asian Americans/ psychology, Attitude to Health/ ethnology, Breast Neoplasms/ethnology/prevention & control, Early Detection of Cancer/utilization, Female, Humans, Male, Oregon, Physician-Patient Relations, Prejudice, Qualitative Research, Trust, Uterine Cervical Neoplasms/ethnology/prevention & control, Young Adult
AbstractLow rates of breast and cervical cancer screening among Hmong women have been documented. Mistrust of Western medicine and the health care system, as well as experiences of discrimination in health care, may be barriers to seeking health care for this population. In this study, we explored medical mistrust among Hmong women and men, their experiences with discrimination in health care, and how these factors may influence Hmong women's breast and cervical cancer screening behavior. We conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with women and men who were members of the Hmong community in Oregon. Transcripts of 83 interviews were analyzed using content analysis. Despite personally trusting Western medicine and the health care system, participants shared reasons that some Hmong people feel mistrust including lack of understanding or familiarity, culture, and tradition. Although mistrust was thought to result in delaying or avoiding breast or cervical cancer screening, more frequently trust was described as positively influencing screening. In addition, few participants reported being treated differently during breast or cervical cancer screening because they were Hmong. When discussing health care more broadly, however, some participants described differential (e.g., disrespectful or rude) treatment. Such experiences led to feelings such as anger and sadness and affected behavior, including willingness to seek care and choice of provider. Medical mistrust and perceived discrimination were not major barriers to breast and cervical cancer screening in this study. Additional studies are needed to assess whether our findings reflect the experiences of other Hmong.
Ethno Med: