How do differing cultural conceptions of health and illness shape the health care interactions between the Hmong community and the American health care providers?
COMM 330 Analysis Paper #1
During the past few weeks of class, we explored various cultural conceptions of health and illness. We
identified how such conceptions have been influenced by the history of Western medicine (e.g., the
emergence of the biomedical model, the emphasis on verifiability, the separation of the mind from the
body in medicine as a results of Descartes’ notion of mind-body dualism, the biopsychosocial model,
etc.). We also discussed the idea that, over time, our society has become more “medicalized” (i.e., Zola’s
writing about the medicalizing of society). We discussed the factors that influence intercultural health
communication interactions (i.e., source, message, and channel factors) as well as the ways in which
gender, ethnicity, race, age, sexual identity, and socioeconomic status and other identity characteristics
predispose certain populations to better or worse health and health care experiences (i.e., health
disparities). Central to our discussions about health, illness, and health care is an understanding that
people who claim certain identities and/or experience certain illnesses and conditions are likely to
encounter social stigma and bear the burden of the resultant prejudice and discrimination.
The purpose of this paper is to apply your understanding of these central themes. Your task is to read
the select chapters (3 and 6) from Anne Fadiman’s (1997) bookThe spirit catches you and you fall down: A
Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures. The selected chapters provide a brief
overview of the Fadiman’s exploration of the Hmong community’s health care experiences in the Merced
Community Medical Center (MCMM) in Central Valley, CA, during the early 1980’s. Although the book
details the experiences of baby girl Lia Lee, whose family along with hundreds of other refugee families
arrived in central CA after fleeing war-torn Laos, the author describes the conflicts between the Hmong
community and their American health care providers in the American health care system.
Carefully read the select chapters and answer the following, using evidence from the texts to support
1) How do differing cultural conceptions of health and illness shape the health care interactions
between the Hmong community and the American health care providers?
2) How do the health care experiences described in these chapters illustrate the importance of
source, message, and channel factors in health communication interactions at MCMM?
3) How might social stigma influence the Hmong community’s health care experiences and what
are the possible consequences of such stigma?
4) What might help to improve the health care interactions between the Hmong community and
American healthcare providers?
1. The paper is worth 40 points.
2. Your paper should have a cover page formatted according to APA(6th edition) style conventions.
3. Your paper should have a references page, using APA format.
4. Your paper should be double-spaced with 12-point font.
5. The length of the paper should be no less than 1250 words (somewhere between 5 and 6 doublespaced
pages, excluding the title and reference pages).
6. A hard copy of this paper is due at the beginning of class on Tuesday, October 4, 2016.
7. A 10% grade deduction will be applied for each day the paper is late.
Suggestions for Writing the Analysis Paper
– A high quality paper will have strong organizational structure. This means, generally, that the
paper should have an introductory paragraph that contains a thesis statement and a preview of
the main points of the paper. You should work to carefully craft a succinct, well-reasoned, and
well-integrated response to the questions in this assignment. The body of the paper, where you
answer the key questions and apply the course concepts/theories, will be clearly organized. The
paper will also have a concluding paragraph that summarizes the purpose of the paper and any
important final thoughts.
– To receive full credit, you will need to apply each theory/concept in detail and provide concrete
– A high quality paper will demonstrate a thoughtful analysis of the key questions and provide a
thorough synthesis of the course readings and lectures.
– A well-written paper will not have spelling, grammatical or typo errors.
– Although you do not need to use outside sources for this paper, you should cite all relevant
sources (e.g., readings, lectures) using APA 6th edition style (and include a references page).