For research published online in the Journal of Cancer Education, the researchers adapted a "community-readiness assessment" to ask leaders about the Wisconsin Hmong community's efforts to address cancer. Other questions concerned knowledge, beliefs and traditions related to cancer, prevention and western medicine.
Kue identified eight statewide Hmong leaders, and a Hmong graduate student at UW-Madison performed the surveys.
The results revealed a radically different view of health care, says Schroepfer. "When researchers look at a problem, we look at it through our own eyes. It's important to ask, 'What do you see through your eyes?'"
Early detection had no relevance to the Hmong, Schroepfer says. "Some leaders told us there had been no need: 'In Laos, we had no machines to see inside the body. We had to wait until something hurt.'"
Being treated by a young doctor at the hospital can be unnerving, Schroepfer says, because Hmong elders who were born in Asia had no knowledge about the role of a teaching hospital.
Hmong people tend to make decisions as groups, not as individuals, adds Kue. "If somebody in the family is sick, they will usually want the consent of the elders in a medical decision. If my uncle has a heart problem, the doctor may want to do bypass surgery. But if he discusses it with the family and a lot of people think it is dangerous, he'll decide against it."
Leaders interviewed for the study reported that to educate the Wisconsin Hmong, "Hmong community members need to be the educators," Schroepfer says. "They understand the belief system and can talk to people about it, reframe the experience of cancer
|Contact: Tracy Schroepfer|
University of Wisconsin-Madison