Chumnguh thleum: understanding liver illness and hepatitis B among Cambodian immigrants.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of community health, Volume 36, Issue 1, p.27-34 (2011)


2011, Adult, Aged, Cambodia, Community-Based Participatory Research, Cultural Competency, Emigrants and Immigrants, Female, Focus Groups, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Health Promotion, Health Status Disparities, Hepatitis B, Humans, Liver Neoplasms, Male, Mass Screening, Middle Aged, Public Health Sciences Division, Qualitative Research, United States, Vaccination, Young Adult


Cambodian immigrants are over 25 times more likely to have evidence of chronic hepatitis B infection than the general US population. Carriers of HBV are over 100 times more likely to develop liver cancer than non-carriers. Liver cancer incidence is the second leading cancer for Cambodian men and the sixth for Cambodian women. Despite this, this underserved population has received very little attention from health disparities researchers. Culturally and linguistically appropriate interventions are necessary to increase hepatitis B knowledge, serologic testing, and vaccination among Cambodian Americans. Eight group interviews were held with Cambodian American men (48) and women (49). Focus group discussion revealed unanticipated information about sociocultural influences on participants' understanding about hepatitis B transmission, disease course, and prevention and treatment informed by humoral theories underlying Khmer medicine, by biomedicine, and by migration experiences. Our findings reveal the value of qualitative exploration to providing cultural context to biomedical information--a formula for effective health promotion and practice.