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First study of Oregon's Hmong reveals surprising influences on cancer screenings
Date:1/8/2013

CORVALLIS, Ore. Cervical cancer rates for Hmong women are among the highest in the nation, yet past research has shown that cervical and breast cancer screening rates for this population are low in part because of the Hmong's strong patriarchal culture.

However, a new study by Oregon State University researchers examining attitudes regarding breast and cervical cancer screening among Oregon's Hmong population shows a much more complicated picture. The study found that Hmong women often make their own health decisions, but in an environment in which screening is not discussed.

The study, recently published online in Health Education Research, is the first to look at the role of Hmong patriarchal and family influences on women's breast and cervical cancer screening. It is also one of the only studies conducted with Oregon's Hmong population.

Lead author Sheryl Thorburn, a professor of public health at Oregon State University, conducted the study with Jennifer Kue, a Portland native and member of the Hmong community. Kue is now an assistant professor at the Ohio State University.

According to the researchers, about 3,600 Hmong live in Oregon, with the majority centered in the Portland metro area. They interviewed more than 80 Hmong people in Portland and Salem - not only women ages 18 years and older, but also men, including husbands and male leaders in the community.

In the study, the majority of women and men reported that women make health decisions independently, and that, in general, breast and cervical cancer screening was not discussed in the household.

"What we are seeing from our study is that the Hmong culture is evolving," Kue said. "It may not be the same for Hmong women everywhere. This is one piece of the puzzle."

The Hmong first came to the United States in the 1970s as refugees from Southeast Asia. They played a central role in supporting the U.S. during the Vietnam conflic
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Contact: Sheryl Thorburn
Sheryl.Thorburn@oregonstate.edu
541-737-9493
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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First study of Oregon's Hmong reveals surprising influences on cancer screenings
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