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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Determinants of Use For Traditional Medicinal Practices Within the Vietnamese American Community


Objective: This study aims to identify potential reasons Vietnamese Americans continue to use traditional medicine and explore the relationship between balancing Western care and traditional medicinal care.  The study’s main hypothesis is that Vietnamese Americans partake in traditional medicinal practices due to five reasons: it is more accessible, there is a cultural significance to the practice, there is a credibility of traditional practices, participants are more comfortable with the practice, and it is more effective than Western medicine. Furthermore, this study hopes to categorize and understand what traditional medicinal practices are used for as supplemental information.

Methods: A digital Google survey was sent out to Vietnamese Americans based on personal connection and word-of-mouth. A sample of 107 responses were obtained within a two week collection period.

Results: Based on the responses, the results supported only part of the hypothesis in which participants rated that traditional medicinal practices held a cultural significance to them and the user felt comfortable using these practices. More so, herbal medicine, wind scraping or coin scratching, and massage therapy were the most common traditional medicinal practices used among the participant pool.

Conclusion: Although the results did not fully support the hypothesis, there is still a better understanding about how respondents viewed traditional medicinal practices in comparison to Western medicine. Vietnamese Americans continue to play a role of bridging traditional and Western practices into their lives, which brings up a point of the need to be more culturally sensitive to traditional practices in a Western healthcare setting. This would allow more cultural competency in designing Western healthcare interventions and open pathways to collaborate between both health spheres, overall potentially decreasing barriers to access to culturally competent care in the United States.

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