A study of health beliefs and health practices of Kampuchean mothers : report of a research exercise undertaken in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Nursing Studies at Massey University
This study was conducted to explore the health beliefs and health practices of refugee mothers from Kampuchea. Three mothers participated in the study. Information was obtained by using unstructured interviews which were tape recorded in most instances. Data were analyzed from the transcripts and interpreted from each participant's viewpoint. The findings of the study show that the perception of health and illness of these Khmer women is quite different from the Western view. The Asian belief about 'hot' and 'cold' balance has a strong influence on the health practices of the Khmer women, especially in regard to the childbearing practices. To maintain health of the body there has to be a proper balance between these two things, and any imbalance will result in ill-health. Correction of the imbalance is done by the addition or subtraction of heat and cold. This is achieved by making certain dietary changes, or administering certain suitable medicine, or making a balance between body and environment. In addition, this study indicates that these particpants' health care practices are based on a combination of traditional beliefs such as 'coining', the use of home remedies,' and the use of Chinese medicine; and the Western health system, which means using the doctor when they are sick. The participants in this study seemed to adjust very well to Western health care. Utilizing Western health care, however seems to be focussed on curative rather than preventive or promotive health. Recommendations and indications for further research are also presented.