Chronic illness and Hmong shamans

J Transcult Nurs. 2005 Apr;16(2):150-4. doi: 10.1177/1043659604273553.


Among the challenges health care personnel in California's central valley face has been finding ways to help Hmong Americans manage chronic illness. Interviews were conducted with 11 Hmong shamans diagnosed with diabetes or hypertension and were qualitatively analyzed to ascertain respondents' understanding and management of their illnesses. Hmong shamans are influential individuals within their communities and are often the resource persons to whom patients turn for information on health. Understanding the shamans' perspective on chronic illness was seen as a gateway to understanding how the broader Hmong American community perceived these conditions. The concept of chronic illness was not well understood, resulting in sporadic medication and dietary regimens, limited awareness of potential complications, and a persistent impression that these illnesses could be cured rather than managed. Suggestions for patient educators include family and community involvement in care regimens and the use of descriptive terminology to identify the disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Asian / education
  • Asian / ethnology*
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • California
  • Causality
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Chronic Disease / therapy
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / ethnology
  • Family / ethnology
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / ethnology
  • Laos / ethnology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards
  • Qualitative Research
  • Refugees / education
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Semantics
  • Shamanism*
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires