Orange County, Calif., Social Service Agencies Seek To Provide Awareness of Culturally Competent Health Care to Vietnamese Community
Social service agencies in Orange County, Calif., are working to develop health care programs that are more tailored to the culture, lifestyles and beliefs of the county's large Vietnamese population, the Los Angeles Times reports. The agencies have found that providing effective health services to the Vietnamese community is not as simple as translating health materials and hiring bilingual staff, according to the Times.
According to the 2003 National Healthcare Disparities Report, about 40% of Vietnamese-Americans said that their doctors do not understand their culture or values. About three-fourths of Vietnamese-Americans reported that they found it difficult to understand information provided to them at physician offices, according to the Times.
In response to such findings, a project that focuses on diabetes at the University of California-Irvine has reworked USDA's standard food pyramid to address a more traditional Vietnamese diet, including rice bowls, vermicelli noodles and pho. Community groups have partnered with UC-Irvine personnel on the project and aim to help Vietnamese residents incorporate doctors' advice into their daily lives.
Another group, called VietMOMS, is working to provide information about pre- and post-natal care, as certain guidelines can conflict with traditional Vietnamese practices, Ailene Ly, coordinator of the program, said.
In addition, the local Planned Parenthood affiliate is conducting a series of focus groups and talks with Vietnamese community leaders to develop informational materials and presentations that address traditional views on sex. Stephanie Kight, spokesperson for the affiliate, said, "In the Mission Viejo High School, we might say something like, 'Free condoms!' but we might want to find a more nuanced way to talk about it in the Vietnamese community." Kight added that the effort could lead to materials that could be used in Vietnamese communities nationwide.
Quyen Ngo-Metzger, an assistant professor of medicine at UC-Irvine, suggested that social service agencies and health programs work with "people on the ground" who understand the Vietnamese community and are trusted by the community. She added, "I think we're just barely scratching the surface with research into these communities" (Tran, Los Angeles Times, 7/8).