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Exploring Second Generation Hmong American Cultural Perspectives of Health and Their Health Behaviors


The purpose of this study was to explore the cultural knowledge and health perspectives of second-generation Hmong, who have an increased risk of overweight, obesity, and chronic illnesses associated with being overweight and obese. In examining health perspectives that guide their actual health behaviors, I sought to examine if and how the second-generation live and reconcile their two worlds socially and emotionally. A total of 17 interviews were conducted with 11 second-generation students from Southern California institutions, 7 first-generation parents (two sets of parents), and 1 aunt who is considered the 1.5 generation. First and second generations are active players in syncretizing opposing cultural elements with mundane concerns of day to day life. Second-generation participants gather what they know to be traditional and modern, but most of their belief systems are grounded through a Eurocentric stance in which Eastern is the alternative to what they consider normal. However, Hmong traditions and Eastern models of understanding health are conceivable because of their direct experiences and relationships with their family and friends who share similar backgrounds, which then allow them to accept or at least consider a multicultural approach to health. This process is constant for the second generation where each individual adopts some components of each approach, as to why many participants stated, “we do whatever works.”

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