Vietnamese Diabetic Patients and their Physicians: What Ethnography can Teach Us

Published: 2021-07-07 00:10:19
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The article titled “Vietnamese Diabetic Patients and their Physicians: What Ethnography can Teach Us” by Dorothy S. Mull, Nghia Nguyen, and J Dennis Mull describe the ethnographic study that focused on identifying the cultural context for Type 2 Diabetes Mellites in Vietnamese Immigrants living in the United States. The study specifically focuses on the patient perception of the causes and treatment of the illness. Furthermore, the researchers also aim to identify how the disease can be controlled and managed in the Vietnamese immigrant population. The researchers have specifically focused on the Vietnamese immigrants in the U.S. as the population sample because of their income disparity and social stereotypes that create a barrier between the patient access to the physicians and the quality of treatment they receive.To better conduct the study, it was important to select an appropriate research design. For this purpose, the researchers adopted the ethnographic study model. According to this research design, 38 randomly chosen Vietnamese immigrants were interviewed in their native language. They were guided by a native Vietnamese speaker throughout this process. Furthermore, the five physicians, two nurses and one herbalist of Vietnamese origin were also interviewed for this study. The participants for the study were chosen from the low-income areas of southern California. Critically analyzing the research design, it can be stated that the researchers have done appropriate and quality work in choosing the design by the scope, purpose, and objective of their research. Instead of conventional experimental designs, the ethnographic study provides the cultural context and social causes that are leading to depleted opportunities for managing, controlling and overcoming the treatment procedures of Vietnamese immigrants suffering from Type II Diabetes Mellitus.Based on the appropriately chosen ethnographic research, the results were driven that confirmed the problem statement as described by the researchers. The results revealed that majority of the patients, i.e., almost 2/3rd of the selected sample population had not received any guidance or procedural treatment that would have helped them control and manage their disease in a better way. Furthermore, the results of the interview also revealed that the perceptions and beliefs regarding the cause and appropriate treatment for the disease were greatly shaped up by cultural traditions. Another barrier identified in the research was that the interviewed patients were more comfortable when using herbal and alternative medicines while they showed significant resistance to the utilization of standard insulin injections. Furthermore, the patients also revealed that they stopped taking their prescribed medications to switch to herbal and alternative eastern medications while some of the participants reduced the dose of their prescribed medications. They also admitted to taking medicine only when they that they are “out of balance.” Another revelation from the results is that majority almost 70% of the patients relied more on using the traditional and home remedies to treat and attempt to cure their diabetes. This practice was also further supported by some of the physicians that were qualified from Vietnamese institutes. There have also been reports of the death of a patient after adopting this approach. Based on these results, it can be concluded that the Vietnamese immigrant population is more likely to suffer from critical stages of diabetes because of their traditional and cultural beliefs that restrict them from using prescribed and standard medications.In my opinion, the research conducted was very comprehensive and specific about the socio-cultural barriers that limit the control and management of the disease. The study is conducted in a precise way so that it can help in understanding the generic socio-cultural factors such as income, lack of awareness and lack of trust in case of treatment and onset of other ailments such as HIV/AIDS, heart issues, breast cancer, etc.ReferencesMull, D. S., Nguyen, N., & Mull, J. D. (2001). Vietnamese diabetic patients and their physicians: what ethnography can teach us. Western journal of medicine, 175(5), 307.

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