The mark of a good healer: Examining health care behaviors in the Vietnamese community

Cherylynn MacGregor, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The purpose of this study was to conduct a descriptive, exploratory analysis of the utilization of both traditional healing methods and western biomedical approaches to health care among members of the Vietnamese community in Houston, Texas. The first goal of the study was to identify the type(s) of health care that the Vietnamese use. The second goal was to highlight the numerous factors that may influence why certain health care choices are made. The third goal of this study was to examine the issue of preference to determine which practices would be used if limiting factors did not exist. There were 81 participants, consisting of males and females who were 18 years or older. The core groups of participants were Vietnamese students from the University of Houston-Downtown and volunteer staff members from VN TeamWork. Asking the students and staff members to recommend others for the study used the snowball method of recruiting additional participants. Surveys and informed consents were in English and Vietnamese. The participants were given the choice to take the surveys face-to-face or on their own. Surveys consisted of structured questions with predetermined choices, as well as, open-ended questions to allow more detailed information. The quantitative and qualitative data were coded and entered into a database, using SPSS software version 15.0. Results indicated that participants used both traditional (38.3%) and biomedical (59.3%) healing, with 44.4% stating that it depended on the illness as to treatment. Coining was the most used traditional healing method, clearly still used by all ages. Coining was also the method most used when issues regarding fear and delayed western medical treatment were involved. It was determined that insurance status, more than household income, guided health care choices. A person's age, number of years spent in the United States, age at migration, and the use of certain traditional healing methods like coining all played a role in the importance of the health care practitioner speaking Vietnamese. The most important finding was that 64.2% of the participants preferred both traditional and western medicine because both methods work.

Subject Area

Cultural anthropology|Public health

Recommended Citation

MacGregor, Cherylynn, "The mark of a good healer: Examining health care behaviors in the Vietnamese community" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3290032.